Navigating Menopause: Insights from a Therapist’s Perspective

In my practice, I’ve observed an increasing number of clients facing challenges related to menopause. This significant life transition, often occurring between the ages of 45 and 55, marks a period of profound change, not only physically but emotionally and psychologically. As a therapist, I aim to shed light on this journey, offering understanding and strategies to manage its impact, especially in the workplace. Menopause is not merely a personal health issue but a professional concern that necessitates empathy, support, and adjustments within the work environment.

Understanding Menopause & hormone related transitions

Menopause is characterized by a decline in oestrogen levels, leading to various symptoms such as hot flashes, mood fluctuations, sleep disturbances, and cognitive changes. These symptoms don’t just affect personal well-being; they can significantly impact professional life, influencing performance, engagement, and overall job satisfaction.

In addition to addressing menopause, it’s essential to acknowledge the concept of “manopause” or male menopause, which refers to the age-related changes in male hormone levels, particularly testosterone. Although it differs biologically from menopause, the effects can similarly impact mood, energy levels, and overall well-being, potentially affecting work performance and relationships. In my therapeutic practice, I emphasize the importance of recognizing these changes in men, advocating for a holistic approach to well-being that includes physical health, emotional support, and workplace adjustments. By fostering an environment that supports open discussions about hormonal changes in both men and women, employers can create a more inclusive, understanding, and supportive workplace culture. This acknowledgment not only validates the experiences of those going through “manopause” but also promotes a broader awareness of how life transitions can affect us all, encouraging empathy and support across the board.

Self-Care and Professional Guidance

Self-care is paramount during these transition. Here are a few strategies I discuss with my clients:

  • Healthy Living: Embracing a lifestyle that includes balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate rest can help mitigate some menopausal symptoms.
  • Stress Reduction: I encourage practices like mindfulness, meditation, or gentle yoga to manage stress and enhance mental well-being.
  • Support Networks: Sharing experiences with trusted friends, family, or support groups offers emotional comfort and practical advice.
  • Professional Health Advice: Seeking guidance from healthcare professionals can provide tailored strategies to manage symptoms effectively.

Workplace Support: Advocating for Your Needs

While there’s growing awareness, explicit laws addressing menopause support in workplaces in England are still evolving. However, the Equality Act 2010 may cover menopause specifically under its protection against sex, disability, and age discrimination. Unfortunately there is no mention of male hormonal transition. Here’s what that means for support in the workplace around menopause;

  • Protection Against Discrimination: If menopause symptoms are severe, they might be considered a disability, requiring employers to make reasonable adjustments.
  • Health and Safety Considerations: Employers should assess and mitigate health and safety risks for menopausal women.
  • Right to Flexible Working: You can request adjustments to your working hours or conditions to better manage your symptoms.

Requests You Can Make

  • Adjustable Work Environment: This can include measures to control your work area’s temperature or having flexible uniform policies.
  • Flexible Scheduling: Adjusting work hours to cope with sleep disturbances or other symptoms.
  • Periodic Breaks: The ability to take breaks as needed for symptom management.
  • Development of Supportive Policies: Encouraging the creation of workplace policies that recognize and support menopausal women.

Cultivating an Empathetic Workplace

From my professional perspective, fostering a workplace where individuals feel comfortable discussing and managing age related transitions is crucial. Employers and colleagues can contribute by:

  • Offering training to understand menopause’s and age related transitions for men and women and the impact and how to support affected employees.
  • Promoting an open and inclusive culture that encourages conversations about health and well-being.
  • Providing access to counseling or occupational health services to support employees through transitions.

As we navigate these conversations in therapy, it’s clear that menopause is not just an individual concern but a societal and workplace issue. By advocating for understanding, support, and appropriate adjustments, we can transform the workplace into a space where every individual, irrespective of their stage in life, feels valued and supported. The journey through menopause, with its challenges and changes, underscores the need for compassion, adaptability, and open dialogue in all aspects of life, including work. Together, let’s work towards a more inclusive and supportive professional environment for everyone experiencing life’s transitions.