Regular contributor Barbara Mark, PhD, takes on the challenges of dealing with the signs of perimenopause and menopause in the workplace.
In the year 2018 there are about 31 million women in the US workforce who are between the ages of 45 and 64. Eighty percent of these women will experience symptoms related to perimenopause. Of that 80 percent, about 25 percent will experience symptoms so severe that they will consider quitting their jobs.
Many of us don’t know enough about menopause to know how to best prepare ourselves so that it’s more manageable. We don’t know what perimenopause is, and we don’t know how to identify what’s happening when it starts. So of course, we don’t know how to manage the symptoms we’re experiencing when we’re in perimenopause.
Not knowing all this is truly terrible, since some of the symptoms are scary enough to make women think they have a serious medical problem.
You might ask: Why is this important and what is all the fuss about? Based on information from my own clients – women in professional/corporate positions – and from women who have participated in research I’ve been doing, women are having a really difficult time of it. If this is you, here is some useful information.
Added to this, we live in a very youth-obsessed culture and there is a lot of gendered ageism that women experience. Nothing says “old woman” like menopause in the minds of people in our communities and workplaces – including in our own minds!
As a result, there is a big stigma attached to being perimenopausal/menopausal. Most professional women, especially women not in any kind of healthcare organization, are loathe to have anyone know that they are experiencing symptoms.
(Feel like you’ve been hit by a perfect storm of menopause and life stuff? Read all about what’s happening and why from Barbara Mark.)
Many women who have a difficult time with symptoms are often seen by their teams/direct reports, their peers and their bosses as not performing well in any number of ways. This can be very damaging to your career.
What is a woman to do? Well, instead of hiding out and suffering in silence, take care of yourself.
Times are changing and some companies (or at least individuals within companies) are aware that menopause is “a thing” and deserves consideration just as pregnancy, family illness, or other crises do. This doesn’t make you a bad person! It is a temporary state of being with an end point (and yes, there’s an end point, thank goodness).
In the meantime, some of us are going into corporations to create awareness and support options. Also, turn to Gennev for lots of information about what you may be experiencing and how to address the symptoms. We are here for you!
How are you handing the signs of peri/menopause at work? Is your workplace pretty open and accommodating, or are you hiding in the supply closet for every hot flash? Let us know in the comments below, on Gennev’s Facebook page, or in our closed Facebook group, Midlife & Menopause Solutions
Also by Barbara Mark: why midlife should be “me time” and how to make it so, and the stunning similarities between adolescence and “middlescence.”