Perimenopause and menopause are topics on many women’s minds, yet we rarely vocalize them, seeing them somewhat as taboo. In a study cited in Forbes “73% of women reported that they were not currently treating their menopause.”
Many women experience new and unexpected symptoms that can impact their daily lives, including their secular work. However, they feel powerless to do anything about it. So with this in mind, we want to create more awareness (and hopefully make you feel more empowered about this important stage of your life).
Let’s begin with what perimenopause is - perimenopause is the period of time before menopause. It typically begins in a woman’s 40s, but it can start as early as 35 and is characterized by a series of cycle changes and symptoms. Menopause is the point when a woman has not had menstrual periods for at least 12 months.
The cycle changes are a result of changes in hormones - namely, women experience higher levels of estrogen and lower levels of progesterone. Earlier in life, estrogen and progesterone would have been balanced more. Progesterone has an important role of helping to calm and relax the body. The lower levels can result in some unpleasant side effects, including increased menstrual flow, fibroids, tender breasts, and increased PMS. And because progesterone (the anti-stress and calming hormone) is not behaving in its usual way, anxiety and stress levels may also increase.
This transition can at times feel overwhelming for many women, especially if they feel unequipped with the tools to enable them to track their cycle and its symptoms, or are unable to get the necessary support you need.
These biological changes can especially impact how you feel in the workplace. So are we not speaking about it because we feel it’s a minority group of women that are affected? The Corporate Wellness magazine wrote: “By 2020, it's estimated that the symptoms of menopause will affect more than 75 percent of working women in the United States…” Despite this estimate, there is still a huge gap in support available within the workplace.
So what can be done to change this?
We know perimenopause and menopause are getting more attention, especially with more women such as Maisie Hill, Lara Briden, June Potts, and Dee Murray (to name just a handful) raising awareness for women approaching this significant time in their lives and the impacts they are trying to make within the corporate space too.
But what can you do personally?
First, remember that entering perimenopause is a completely natural process - It happens to every woman in the world. The journey of perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause is to come into our own and to measure our worth internally, rather than relying on external validation.
Don’t be ashamed to ask for support from your health provider, your family or even from your manager (you might be surprised by the response you get!). By being open about what you need at work, perhaps more flexibility within your work schedule, the option to work from home if you are experiencing particularly bad symptoms that day, or simply a desk fan.
Second, you can enter this new stage of your life of perimenopause with full knowledge about what is happening to your body and even be able to identify the onset of this stage, before it begins, simply by charting your menstrual cycle.
Be aware of the changes happening within your body and nourish it by creating simple changes in your lifestyle - exercise regularly, reduce your alcohol intake, eat plenty of nutritional foods aimed at creating harmony for your hormones, maintain a regular sleep pattern, and build rest into your weekly routine.
There is so much we can do to empower ourselves with the knowledge about our own bodies, and to raise more awareness in the workplace. In the coming couple of months, Tempdrop will be sharing more information, articles and even conducting Q&A sessions with experts in this arena. Follow our Instagram page to learn more.