Managing Menopause in the Workplace

career mental health relationships Jul 23, 2021
My work area is covered in Post It notes so I don’t forget any important projects or meetings.
I have a full change of clothes (including 3 pairs of panties) in my desk in case I sneeze or have a crazy hot flash at work.
My [male] boss is 20 years my senior and pretty sure has no idea what menopause is.
I’m so tired all the time. I really want to ask my boss if I could come in an hour later and stay an hour later, but I’m too embarrassed to ask and don’t want special treatment.
My younger co-workers are constantly mocking me for having a fan on at my desk, even in the winter. They just don’t understand what it’s like for women in midlife!
These are just some of the comments my clients have made over the last few years when the subject of menopause and the workplace comes up.
It’s not easy. And being surrounded by people that can’t relate or have no idea makes it even harder to deal with at times.
Surveys show that a majority of women are unwilling to discuss menopause-related health issues with managers, most of whom are men or are younger than them.
Here’s the deal - this new season known as peri/menopause is going to happen. You can’t out-diet it, out-smart it, or outrun it! It’s inevitable and it’s natural!!
And while it’s natural and part of life that EVERY woman will experience, it can definitely wreak havoc not only in your personal life, but also your work life.
The age of retirement is slowly rising, meaning women will have to work for many years beyond menopause. Managers very rarely (if ever) discuss menopause, leaving you feeling alone. You too may be reluctant to discuss such personal issues, but it’s important for employers to acknowledge that menopause exists, and hopefully provide some simple small adjustments to make work life a little better for you.
Things like poor ventilation, having the thermostat up too high or the bathroom too far away can make symptoms worse. You should not have to hide your symptoms. Opening up and having an honest, private discussion between you and your boss can make work life much more manageable and avoid misunderstandings that could arise.
I know, you’re sitting here thinking “She’s crazy! That is never going to happen!”
So for those of you that feel like you can’t be open or you're just not ready to have that conversation - let’s get into some ways you can manage menopause like a boss in the workplace!!
Coping with symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and fatigue are hard at any time, but when they happen at work it can cause even more challenges.
The occasional joke with friends about wonky hormones or senior moments is okay outside of the workplace, but when you're trying to maintain professionalism and confidence, you probably opt to keep most of your private life private.
With small changes to your work environment, and some minor adjustments to your daily routine you may be able to continue doing your job with very little interruptions, depending of course on how much control you have of your work environment, the severity of your symptoms, and the actual job you do.
Fun Fact: 80% of women ages 45-60 that are in the workforce will have peri/menopause symptoms and of those 80%, 25% will have severe symptoms.
Some common symptoms include:
Tiredness, fatigue, insomnia
Forgetfulness, difficulty with memory or concentration (brain fog / menopause brain)
Anxiety, low mood, moodiness, or depression
Hot flashes or excessive sweating
Hot Flashes at Work:
  • Try using a small desk fan to keep your area cool
  • Dress in comfortable layers to help you stay cool
  • Keep a spray bottle of cool water near your desk or even a cooling towel for your chest / neck
  • Allow more time to arrive to scheduled meetings to reduce the feeling of being rushed which can intensify a hot flash
  • Look for strategies to reduce stress and anxiety at work (like breathing techniques, mediation)
  • Ask to keep the air a cooler temperature
  • Avoid spicy foods, along with coffee, tea or soft drinks that contain caffeine, before a big presentation or meeting
Memory, Concentration, or Brain Fog at work:
  • Break tasks down into manageable goals so that you don't feel overwhelmed
  • Take breaks throughout the day - if you can, try to step outside, the fresh air can be beneficial to your mental health
  • Let your co-workers know that the job will get done but that you may change the way you do it
  • If you feel like you can be open and honest with your manager/boss - let them know what’s going on so they understand why your work style might be changing a little
  • Staying organized is key, use electronic reminders, notes and list
Fatigue / Excessive Tiredness:
  • Get quality sleep! A lack of sleep can make you feel fatigued and irritable
  • Don’t eat a large meal late at night
  • Avoid using electronics within an hour or two before going to sleep; the bright screens can interfere with your sleep-wake cycle
  • Go to bed and wake up at about the same time every day
  • Keep your bedroom cool, and keep a glass of ice water by the side of the bed to drink and cool your body temperature
  • Use cotton sheets and wear cotton pajamas to keep cool
  • Set an earlier bedtime
  • Have a solid bedtime / relaxing routine
  • Incorporate more self care into your week
  • Have access to healthy snacks to munch on throughout the day to help keep your energy level up, your blood sugar stable, and to help reduce getting hangry (angry hungry)
  • Having a consistent exercise routine can improve your sleep, mood, and fatigue, as well as reduce your anxiety and cortisol levels.
  • Stay hydrated
Dealing with Urinary Incontinence at Work:
  • Do Kegels to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles
  • If you need to use the restroom, do so. Your health and safety should always come before making a meeting or sending an email.
  • Pack an emergency kit of comfortable, clean clothes
  • Wear dark clothing
  • Talk to your doctor about improving your pelvic floor health and in the meantime use pads as necessary (pads are a band aide they are not a fix *** you can improve poor pelvic floor health so don’t just settle because it’s often referred to as “normal”)
  • Go to the bathroom regularly and schedule your bathroom breaks between meetings or conference calls, and take your time when you are there
  • Don’t wear overcomplicated. Choose skirts or pants with elasticated bands to help you save time.
  • Caffeine is a diuretic which can stimulate urine production and irritate the bladder. If you are worried about incontinence at work, limit your amount of caffeine per day
  • Don’t skip the water - Your first reaction would be to avoid drinking water. That can actually have an adverse effect since not drinking enough water can irritate your bladder
Finally, don’t be afraid to seek help! Seek help
If the symptoms of menopause continue to impact your work performance or your quality of life, even with putting these tips in place, seek help.
Talk to you doctor, OB/GYN, or a physician that specializes in Pelvic Floor Health. Working with a health coach is another great way to help you navigate this season in the work place and beyond t
Book a free Discovery call today to talk about your menopause symptoms and determine the best course of treatment. There are a variety of hormonal and non-hormonal treatment options to explore.

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