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Half the population will go through the menopause at some point, which makes it absurd that it is still considered a taboo topic in many workplaces. With an ageing workforce, the menopause is an issue employers need to address as a matter of urgency. Because by introducing a menopause policy, employees will benefit from help and support, if and when they should need it, plus businesses will stand a much better chance of retaining team members at the top of their game – everyone benefits! The Occupational Healthcare experts at YourGP explain more…
What is the menopause?
The menopause is a natural part of ageing which usually affects women between the age of 45 and 55. The ovaries produce less oestrogen, they no longer release an egg each month, periods stop, and the woman is unable to get pregnant naturally.
What are the most common symptoms of the menopause?
Menopausal symptoms can be wide-ranging – affecting the individual both physiologically and psychologically. The symptoms can begin months or even years before periods stop and can continue for several years after the final period.
Each menopausal woman is different but typical symptoms can include hot flushes, night sweats, headaches, joint pain, irregular periods, disrupted sleep, memory lapses, difficulty concentrating, and anxiety.
How can the menopause affect someone’s work?
Many women are able to continue working unaffected throughout their menopause. For others, however, difficulty managing their symptoms can lead to a loss of confidence at work and decreased productivity. It can also lead to a reduction in job satisfaction, an increase in time off work, and potentially influence a women’s decision to leave their role.
Why is it important to provide support in the workplace?
Women going through the menopause are often at the top of their game when it comes to their career. By this age, they tend to have a great deal of valuable experience, skills and knowledge that can be hugely beneficial to businesses. With many years still ahead of them before retirement, they still have a great deal to contribute to the workplace, if they are provided with the right support to do so.
How can employers help?
There are many ways to help but a good starting point is a simple conversation. In order to fully support menopausal employees, the whole team needs to be educated about what the menopause involves, and discussions of the menopause in the workplace need to be normalised.
Including a specific menopause policy in the company’s employee handbook may help women feel more comfortable about having a discussion with their employers about what they are experiencing and how they are feeling, and managers should be trained to deal with these issues sensitively.
It is also important to make reasonable adjustments to working arrangements, where possible. Potential ideas include:
• Adjust office temperature and ventilation, or provide a desktop fan and access to cold water to help with hot flushes.
• Opt for natural fibre materials in uniforms and corporate clothing to help with hot flushes.
• Ensure there is easy access to toilet facilities and make sanitary products freely available to help with unpredictable periods.
• Offer flexible working or a change of working hours to help with disrupted sleep.
• Offer regular one-to-one catch ups so employees can discuss any issues.
• Keep in touch if someone is off work because of their menopausal symptoms and support an effective return to work.
It is important to remember that every woman is different and employees many have very difference symptoms and experiences of the menopause. It is therefore essential that individual needs are considered.
More help is available
If you would like further information on how to best to support your employees through the menopause, get in touch with YourGP’s team of Occupational Health specialists on 0131 225 5656 or email email@example.com.
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