“Lets Talk Menopause” on International Women’s Day #ChooseToChallenge

Author : Aisling Gough, Health Promotion Officer

Tuesday 8th March is International Women’s Day and among the many things to celebrate, it is important to address, and challenge the still taboo subject that is the Menopause.

Menopause – Signs & Symptoms and Discussing it Early.

Typically occurring in women in their late 40s or early 50s, menopause is defined as having no menstrual period for one year. It can be accompanied with a variety of side effects that can vary from person to person.
However, it is important to be aware of Perimenopause, which can occur 8-10 years before menopause. Perimenopause refers to the transition that your body goes through in preparation for menopause. It can involve a number of signs and symptoms similar to menopause, and so having an awareness of these can assist you in managing them.

• Changes to your menstrual cycle
• Hot flashes
• Muscle and joint pain
• Changes in mood
• Night-time sweats
• Vaginal dryness
• Headaches
• Regular urinary tract infections (UTIs)
• Reduced libido
• Sugar cravings
• Increased irritability

Menopause in the workplace

Given that the average age of menopause in Ireland is 51, a significant number of women will be working through their menopause and perimenopause. Employers have a duty of care to their employees to provide awareness and support to these women. However, for many, conversations around menopause can be viewed as taboo.

Women’s health falls under the health and wellbeing umbrella in terms of workplace wellbeing, and so by providing support and education to female employees, employers are not only raising awareness, but also empowering them.

Research has shown that in cases where employees do not feel comfortable talking about menopause and the side effects, they are experiencing can often result in a woman leaving her job. Creating a safe, welcome environment is key to being a responsible employer, and often the offering of low-cost support such as a desk fan, or time off to visit their GP can make all the difference.

Ensure your workplace is supportive to women’s health by creating the conversation, decreasing the taboo, and forming a trusting relationship with your employees.

Why should we be discussing menopause at an earlier age?

As mentioned above, perimenopause is the body’s transition period into menopause and can come into effect up to 10 years before menopause. Additional side effects of perimenopause would be worsened PMS, weight gain and rapidly reduces a woman’s fertility rate.
By discussing menopause earlier, we are equipping ourselves with knowledge that can make side effects more manageable. It also creates an awareness around our reproductive health, that is beneficial to be aware of at any age.

For example, if a woman had post-natal depression following pregnancy, she will have a bigger chance of suffering with mental health difficulties during menopause. Being aware of this ensures that we are looking out for any signs and symptoms of mental health issues before they worsen.

This same awareness around of reproductive health means that we are understanding how our bodies react to certain hormones. For example, if a woman responds well to an estrogen-based form of contraception, that means that they are more than likely to respond well to Hormone Replacement Therapy, if necessary, throughout menopause.
Female health is all connected, from when we start menstruating to when we stop. Everything in between that should be noted and highlighted in order to best assist you on your menopause journey.

For additional support and advice on managing menopause, please visit: