Dr. Renee Morissette with the Saskatchewan Health Authority Midlife Women’s Health Program spoke to Jeff Rogstad recently about how menopause affects women in the workplace. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
We talk about menopause on this segment on a regular basis. Today we're talking about menopause in the workplace.
It affects women’s personal lives, but it also affects their professional lives too. And virtually half the workforce is women, and we’re seeing a trend towards retirement age being pushed back, so it’s more and more likely that women will experience menopause in the workplace. They say that about six out of 10 women feel that their menopause symptoms negatively impact their ability to work properly.
Does it also affect how they’re perceived by their co-workers and possibly their employers?
I think a lot of women worry about that. Feel embarrassed or have decreased self-confidence because they’re worried about their ability to perform.
In Great Britain there’s a movement to be a bit more accommodating.
Anything you look up in this area, definitely there’s lots of information from the United Kingdom. They seem to be taking the lead. A lot of Members of Parliament are pushing for more progressive policies. In fact, the Labour Party in the recent campaign made intentions to address menopause in the workplace. There’s even some really big companies like Channel 4 that are advertising how they’re addressing the menopause transition in their workplaces.
Let’s take a look at this list of workplace accommodations: adjusting office temperature and ventilation or providing a fan; offering cool drinking water; providing easy access washing facilities and sanitary products; considering flexible work times; and adapting uniforms to improve comfort.
I think the key is individualizing based on the workplace and based on the employee. Because every workplace is different and every employee’s experience will be different. It benefits companies as well. They help decrease sick leave and women feel more loyal and increase morale. Overall, it’s helping women reach their full potential at work.