The Big M (menopause) marks a significant milestone in women’s lives. Menopause, along with perimenopause, is a time of transition when women’s reproductive hormones begin to change. This natural stage of life usually begins somewhere between 45-55 for most women, and it is during this time when unpleasant symptoms such as night sweats and hot flushes, are at their peak.
New research by integrated women’s healthcare brand SFI Health, home of Flordis Femular® found that menopause symptoms may also impact upon women’s careers and professional lives. The research discovered that 1 in 5 (18%) Australian women have had to adjust their work life to deal with the symptoms of menopause, including hot flushes, sweating, sleeplessness, mood swings, irritability, mild anxiety, and joint pain.
The research also found that 4 out of 10 women need to ask for additional time off to cope with the symptoms of menopause, and nearly two thirds required extra doctor’s appointments within work hours. Yet despite the significant number of women needing to adjust their work lives to cope with menopause, almost half of the women surveyed (46%) reported that they did not feel comfortable speaking openly to their manager or colleagues about their menopause symptoms.
As conscientious, career driven women, we may often prioritise professional success over all other concerns, including our health and wellbeing. If you’re finding managing menopause symptoms in the workplace a challenging experience, here are 5 tips on how to ask your boss for extra menopause leave:
1. Be Assertive: Don’t try to hide your symptoms or feel pressure to sweep your experiences under the rug. If you’re honest and upfront from the get-go about how you’re feeling, then you and your manager or co-workers can start the discussion on the same page. Remember, you don’t need to go into specific detail about your symptoms, but at least providing an indication of the changes you’re experiencing will be helpful in guiding conversations with your team.
2. Ask for a letter of support from your GP: If you think you may be experiencing the symptoms of menopause, you may want to visit a healthcare practitioner for advice and possible treatment pathways. A GP may also be able to help you determine whether you need to ask your employer for extra menopause leave, and they may provide you with a letter of support.
3. Don’t make up excuses: Due to the private nature of menopause, many women may unfortunately feel embarrassed to ask for menopause leave. Menopause is a natural, transitional stage of life, and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed to take the appropriate steps to look after your health and wellbeing. If you fear your male colleagues or boss won’t be as understanding, it is recommended that you educate them as much as possible about this stage in life, without needing to go into specifics about your own experiences.
4. Seek out credible resources: When it comes to educating the people around you in the workplace about menopause, a great place to start is by providing them with credible resources that will educate them about this life stage. There is lots of information floating around online and in the media about menopause. If you’re finding it difficult to explain what you’re going through to those around you, seek out credible, well-researched resources by doctors and healthcare practitioners, that can give you the information you need to make well-informed choices and help communicate effectively with your team.
5. Know that you don’t have to ‘put up’ with symptoms in silence: Many women might be under the impression that they just need to ‘put up’ with their menopause symptoms in the workplace, or risk jeopardising their career. The truth is, there are several options out there to help women relieve menopause symptoms in the workplace, including a naturally-derived extract Ze-450. A clinically researched extract of the plant Actaea racemosa, these types of natural extracts can help relieve menopause symptoms that can be quite challenging to deal with both in and outside the work environment.
You may wish to see your doctor to discuss options and if they are appropriate for you. Know that you can get relief from your symptoms, and don’t need to sweat it in silence. Inform your team along the way and ask for their support in adjusting the work environment to be as menopause-friendly as possible.
Remember, menopause is a natural, transitional stage in a woman’s life, and to never let another person, or circumstances outside of your control, make you feel ‘less-than’ because of it. As women, it is important that we all feel empowered and well-educated to speak about our menopause symptoms openly, and prioritise looking after our health as much as we prioritise our careers.