The University is committed to supporting staff who are going through the menopause; we recognise that for many staff the debilitating symptoms of the menopause will affect their comfort and performance at work.
Through creating an open and understanding workplace environment, we want to encourage support staff to talk honestly about how their menopause symptoms are affecting them and their work.
Every woman will experience the menopause differently. We aim to provide the practical support and workplace adjustments that reflect individual needs and personal circumstances, and support staff to continue to enjoy and benefit from their work.
What is the menopause?
The menopause is a normal, natural part of the life cycle, and occurs when a woman stops having periods and are no longer biologically able to have children. It’s a gradual process which happens over months or years, usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, which is also the age bracket during which women are most likely to move into senior or leadership positions. In the UK, the average age to reach the menopause is 51.
Women over the age of 50 are the fastest growing workforce demographic, and most will go through the menopause transition during their working lives. For every ten women experiencing menopausal symptoms, six say it has a negative impact on their work, citing poor concentration, tiredness, poor memory, depression, low mood, reduced confidence, sleepiness, and particularly hot flushes as contributing factors. With the right support, there’s no need for women to press pause on their career during this natural transition.
This video shares facts and figures on the menopause that are helpful for those living with the menopause and line managers who are trying to be supportive.
Let’s talk about the menopause.
Menopause: it’s always been around, so why do we need to talk about it now?
If we go back in time, say to the 1900s, women tended to menopause at around 57, and died at 59.
Today on average, women reach menopause at around 51, and live to be 83, and work until their late 60s.
In fact, around 7-8 out of 10 menopausal women are still in work.
This is a stage in every woman’s life.
But with 3 out of 4 experiencing menopausal symptoms, and 1 in 4 serious symptoms, it’s not an easy transition for all.
By talking about it openly, no more taboo, and with the right help and support, we can improve that.
And it’s not something just women need to know about.
Everyone does, whether it’s you personally, or you’re playing a vital role in being there for a partner, family member, friend or colleague.
Menopause is a stage in every woman’s life that is usually defined as when a woman has not had a period for twelve months.
The following day is classed as menopause.
Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause during which a woman may start to notice changes.
Post-menopause is the time after menopause.
When we talk about menopausal women, we mean those in perimenopause, or post-menopause.
Menopause usually happens between 45 and 55 but can occur up to the mid-60s.
It can also occur earlier.
Naturally, 5 in 100 women menopause between 40 and 45, and in Britain 110,000 women aged between 12 and 40 are affected by premature ovarian insufficiency.
Menopause can also happen early due to surgery and certain types of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.
Our hormone levels change throughout our lives.
The main ones which have an impact on menopause are:
Oestrogen – which nourish the tissues of the body, regulates bone turnover and cholesterol, as well as keeping the liver, brain and heart healthy;
Progesterone – which boosts feelings of calmness and aids sleep, and can help improve mood. It also helps balance blood sugar levels;
Testosterone – which increases motivation and optimism, helps women feel brighter and more assertive, helps women feel more assertive and boosts sex drive.
During menopause, these hormones can be out of balance.
Oestrogen levels fluctuate, and progesterone levels decline, which is when a woman may start noticing symptoms.
There are a range of menopausal symptoms, both physical and psychological.
These can include hot flushes, low mood, poor sleep and anxiety.
Every woman is different.
Some may not notice any changes at all.
Others will notice some symptoms, and some may experience serious symptoms.
Symptoms usually last between 4 and 8 years.
Symptoms can be managed in several ways.
A woman may choose a medical approach.
A GP or medical practitioner will use the NICE guidelines to determine the type of medical treatments they are able to offer.
This includes hormone replacement therapy – HRT – which can be administered through tablet, patch or gel.
A GP can advise on the safety and effectiveness of HRT.
It is a good idea for women to prepare notes about symptoms or changes in their menstrual cycle to talk through with their GP.
Others choose a natural approach such as complementary and herbal therapies, including St John’s-wort and black cohosh.
Always choose a qualified herbalist or nutritional therapist.
Non-medical treatments can also be effective in managing menopausal symptoms, ranging from acupuncture to yoga.
Lifestyle changes can be beneficial, both during and post menopause.
These include better diet, the right type of exercise, quitting smoking and reducing alcohol.
Certain supplements, including vitamin D, calcium and magnesium can help too.
Post-menopause health is important; it’s not just about symptoms during the transition.
Consider things like osteoporosis, cholesterol levels and heart disease.
A GP can offer advise here too.
The most important thing is to understand what menopause is, how it may affect a woman, and for her to choose the right approach in managing symptoms and longer-term health.
Women struggling with menopausal symptoms should never be afraid to ask for help and support from their family, friends and at work.
It’s important for everyone to talk about this openly.
Menopause isn’t just a topic for women; it’s for everybody.
Let’s talk about menopause.
Where can I go for support?
Consider talking to your GP if you have menopausal symptoms that are troubling you or if you're experiencing symptoms of the menopause before 45 years of age. Your GP can offer treatments and suggest lifestyle changes to help manage symptoms. It may help to talk with your line manager about your symptoms.
The Health at Work Plan - Menopause/Perimenopause is a useful starting point to consider the existing support in place and how this can be improved, such as additional ventilation, flexible working, or reduced manual tasks to help relieve muscular aches and joint pain. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to your line manager please consider speaking to someone else who can offer support, such as a HR staff member or another manager in your department.
Staff can make a self-referral to Occupational Health to identify appropriate workplace changes or adjustments that can support a more comfortable physical and psychosocial work environment.
Confidential support for staff is available via the Care first counselling who provide a safe space to explore your personal transition through the menopause and consider the ways to deal with your symptoms that are distressing you and develop coping strategies.
Menopause within the workplace
Bangor University is committed to providing an inclusive and supportive environment for everyone that works here. The changing age of the UK’s workforce means that between 75% and 80% of menopausal people are in work. Research shows that most individuals affected are unwilling to discuss menopause-related health problems at work, and do not always receive the support or adjustments that they may need. Menopause should not be taboo or ‘hidden.’ We want everyone to understand what menopause and perimenopause are and to be able to talk about them openly, without embarrassment. This is not just an issue for women, it will affect trans men and some non-binary people, and all men will be affected by it indirectly. Please see the links below for information on how to access support and guidance around the menopause:
The role of Occupational Health is to:
- Carry out a holistic assessment of individuals as to whether or not menopause may be contributing to symptoms/wellbeing; providing advice and guidance in line with up-to-date research.
- Signpost to appropriate sources of help and advice
- Provide support and advice to HR and Line Managers in determining and agreeing reasonable adjustments, if required.
- Please contact Michele Lake, Occupational Health Nurse, for a confidential appointment – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Offer guidance and training to managers on the interpretation of Bangor University’s Menopause Statement and Guidance.
- Have open discussions with colleagues about menopause, offer guidance, support or adjustments in an attempt where possible to support the individual’s requirements.
- Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of this guidance in respect of related absence levels and performance.
- Deliver training on Menopause Awareness for Line Managers
Wellbeing Champions can:
- Provide informal peer support to colleagues
- Provide signposting to external and internal sources of support
If your School or Directorate would like to host a peer support network around the Menopause, please contact Anna Quinn, Health & Wellbeing Project Manager, for support on how to do this.
Sources of guidance and advice
Henpicked is packed full of expert information, useful resources, top tips and insight into women’s stories. Learn the information you need to make the right decision for you.
Menopausematters here you will find information on what happens leading up to, during and after the menopause, what the consequences can be, what you can do to help and what treatments are available
My Menopause Doctor in this series of podcasts, Dr Louise Newson, her colleagues and expert guests, discuss a wide range of menopause-related topics to give listeners unbiased, evidence-based and holistic information and advice to help you or your loved one manage the symptoms and challenges of the menopause and perimenopause.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines explains how your GP will determine what types of treatments and interventions they can offer you.
NHS provides an overview of menopause, symptoms, and treatment options.
The Menopause Exchange gives independent advice about the menopause, midlife, and post-menopausal health.
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists discusses the topics that women have voiced as important at this stage of life and directs to resources to support self-care and your conversations with healthcare professionals.
Women’s Health Concern (WHC) offers confidential, independent service to advise, reassure and educate women of all ages about their gynaecological and sexual health, wellbeing, and lifestyle concerns.