I was intrigued and delighted to read articles in The Mail On Sunday and The Telegraph this morning regarding a recommendation for flexible working hours for menopausal women. That isn’t the whole story, if anything it’s more about supporting women so they don’t have to take time off work.
Intrigued because you rarely see the menopause in the press, let alone on page 5 and over half a page dedicated to it and delighted because the medical condition is at last getting the recognition it deserves, if only to get it out in the open, start healthy debate and remove some of the taboo’s!
So where has this come from? Professor Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer (pictured above), has called on employers to create a culture where women feel comfortable discussing the menopause in the work place and called for guidelines to be drawn up for businesses so they can help staff deal with the issue.
Prof. Davies has recommended the Faculty of Occupational Medicine produce guidelines for employers to help them provide support to women who need it during their menopause.
She said: “The menopause is a natural part of life, but it can feel like a great taboo. It is inexcusable that women who are experiencing menopausal symptoms should feel unable to discuss how they are feeling at work. I want to encourage managers to ensure working women feel as comfortable discussing menopausal symptoms as they would any other issues affecting them in the workplace. This will help to ensure that the talent and potential of all women can be realised to the full.”
Research undertaken has shown women would like to see more awareness among managers of the menopause as a possible occupational health issue. The guidelines are likely to include flexible working hours and working arrangements to help cope with their symptoms as well as improvements in temperature levels and ventilation in the workplace to help deal with symptoms such as hot flushes.
Dr Heather Currie, a spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Chair of the British Menopause Society, said she hoped Prof. Davies’ comments would encourage women to talk more openly about the issue. Dr Heather Currie welcomed the proposals, saying “Unfortunately, many women are still suffering in silence. Every woman experiences the menopause differently. Symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings and depression as well as a loss of interest in having sex, can be extremely debilitating and have a significant impact on a woman’s physical and psychological health, career, social life and relationships. We welcome the Chief Medical Officer’s efforts to ensure that employers are able to offer support and flexibility to women through this time”.
Not everyone was in agreement with Dame Sally, Jenni Murray, presenter of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, who has spoken openly about her own experience of the menopause, said it was wrong “to single out women over 45 as a victim group in need of special attention”. “Many will have just come back to work after looking after children, so it’s not a great idea for them to ask to be made a special case for the sake of feeling a bit grimy”.
Personally I feel any help and support for women during the menopause is a great step forward.
I don’t feel Professor Dame Sally Davies was looking to single out women who are going through the menopause, rather highlight the issue, bring it out in the open and make sure it isn’t brushed under the carpet in the workplace because people find it embarrassing to talk about. Why should flexible working hours for menopausal women be an issue?
Different people suffer with different things throughout their lives and it is important that, no matter what the issue is, they feel they can talk to their bosses openly in order to find a workable solution for both the employer and employee. Probably even more important if that person has just returned to work from bringing up children, only to find they are struggling with the many symptoms associated with the menopause.
I honestly don’t think I would have coped well with working full time for a company while I was going through the hardest part of my own menopause experience.
Up until 3 years ago I had to drive an hour and 45 minutes to my workplace and home again at least 3 times per week. On the other days I was in meetings with customers. It was tiring enough without the added burden of being woken numerous times a night with hot flushes, often waking to feel I’d had no sleep. Which in turn made me forgetful, less organised, tetchy (to say the least) and emotional. None of which would have been a benefit to my work.
Luckily for me I started a business with two awesome women in 2013. Lucy, who is still my business partner, was already going through the menopause at that time and our other business partner was a mum of two school aged children and we all discussed openly the benefits of running our own business in helping us live the lives we needed to at that point.
If I had still been working for a company, I would definitely have welcomed being able to have an open discussion with my boss. To perhaps cut the number of days I needed to be in the office, or perhaps get to the office later and leave later on days where I could have actually slept in! I am sure my boss would have wanted to ensure I continued to perform to my highest standards, surely that would have been a win win?
Are Professor Dame Sally Davies and Dr Heather Currie trying to make excuses for menopausal women or make them a “victim group”? Or, as I believe, are they simply highlighting the issues and symptoms surrounding the menopause, as with any other health issue, to ensure it is given the recognition it needs and to empower women to talk openly on the subject. About bloody time I say!
Let us know if you welcome these guidelines or if you are more inclined to agree with Jenni Murray? It’s so important for women to talk openly on this subject, so please help us to start breaking the taboo’s!
Full Mail on Sunday article http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3347859/Let-women-careers-menopause-England-s-chief-medical-officers-say-female-workers-time-deal-symptoms.html
See article “The Menopause Myth Buster Every Woman Should Read” by Radhika Sanghani 12 November 2015. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/health/the-menopause-myth-buster-every-woman-should-read/
Great support book for women suffering menopausal symptoms: http://life-begins-at.co.uk/forums/topic/myra-hunter-managing-hot-flushes-night-sweats/