Menopause isn’t a dirty word. It’s a fact of life. It's a transition.
The menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as oestrogen levels decline. But around 1 in 100 women will experience the menopause before reaching the age of 40. The symptoms and impact of these in the workplace may vary from person to person, but menopause is a key workplace issue.
On this page you'll find more information about menopause, the symptoms, and the policies and support in place for those affected by the menopause.
Why menopause matters
All women will experience menopause and symptoms can impact home life and work life, so it's important that we have an open and honest conversation about the menopause and the support that's available. Here's some other reasons why it's important for us to talk:
Right now, there are still too many women suffer in silence or are left frustrated and let down by medical professionals that either don't recognise menopausal symptoms when presented or refuse to prescribe the most appropriate treatments. Too many women also still are told that being menopausal is just a natural phase of life - and while that's true, that doesn't mean we can't treat what can be the debilitating effects on the individual.
We want to break the stigma, and to ensure that everyone know what options are out there to support them through the transitions of menopause.
There are many symptoms of the menopause, these are the most common:
The menopause can also increase your risk of developing certain other problems, such as weak bones (osteoporosis).
Stages of menopause
In simple terms, menopause is the end of the monthly periods as the body stops producing eggs and levels of the hormone estrogen drop.
Leading up to menopause is the perimenopause. During the perimenopause, hormone levels start to fluctuate but monthly periods continue, but may be disrupted. Around 75% of women will experience some symptoms during this time and for some the effects can be debilitating for them and those around them. Many women start to experience perimenopausal symptoms in their late thirties and early forties although they may not recognise them at the time.
Post menopause is everything after twelve months and one day without a period. Some women will continue to feel the effects of menopause during this period and can continue for many years.
A small percentage of women will experience menopause at an early age - what is referred to as premature menopause. It's important to understand that there is no minimum age for the menopause and women in their thirties, twenties and even their teens may be affected.
Medical intervention may result in a woman experiencing the menopause, such as hysterectomy surgery. This is known as medical menopause. Some forms of chemotherapy and radiotherapy may also have the same effect on the body.
Experiencing menopause early in life, whether occurring through medical intervention or naturally, may have far reaching mental and emotional impacts, and support and understanding is important.
Treatments for menopause
It can be a scary time, especially when you don't know what to expect and what support is out there. The good news is that there are effective and safe treatments to alleviate the symptoms of menopause and you can access them easily through your GP or other healthcare professionals.
There are some important facts you should be aware of:
You'll find more useful information in the information sheet provided by Menopause Support on the things you and your doctor should know about menopause.
A little about HRT
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms, but it's been the subject of some scary headlines which may get some people a little nervous. It's important for us to talk about the facts and not rely on myths and tabloid headlines to guide the treatments that we have.
There are some important facts you should be aware of about HRT:
It's also important to know that there isn't a single HRT treatment, there are several types :
Read more about HRT and some answers to frequently asked questions.
Lisa Earp, a 39-year-old senior bank manager, reflects on her experience of perimenopause and how she had to fight to get the right support.
We've continued our joint work with Lloyds Banking Group to remove the stigma from the word menopause and to improve awareness and support.
We've been working with LBG to support those in transition and all colleagues in better understanding menopause and creating an inclusive culture.
Support from your employer
Most employers have started to wake up to the needs of those experiencing the menopause and have developed specific policies and support. Most of our members are covered by some form of menopause policy, so we'd direct you to take a look at the specific support that's available which will be clearly signposted on your employer's intranet.
These are some of the more general things that employers can do to support.
Making smaller changes
You won't always need a big change to the way you work, and you may only need some changes for short periods of time - yet these can make a huge difference:
This is not an exhaustive list, and the key is to have open conversations to help you identify what will work for you.
Get support from Accord
We’re building a network of menopause advocates across our membership who can offer support and guidance for those going through the menopause, or those seeking advice. It's a useful way to ensure everyone gets the support they need in work, and know what support and treatments are available from medical professionals.
Advocates need to be knowledgeable about menopause and have a good listening ear. To become an advocate, you must have either attended the training session run by Menopause support or watched the recording. We'll provide additional resources so that you have the tools needed to have supportive conversations.
Accord's menopause advocates are available for both members and non-members to talk to.Find a Menopause advocate Become an advocate
Other sources of support
There are many sources of support - here are some of our favourites:
Used your employers’ private healthcare plan? You may be eligible to claim up to £100 of your excess from us. Check if you’re eligible.
We teamed up with the Bank Workers Charity for a wellbeing webinar to talk about the menopause, and what we can do to break the silence.
Join Accord & Menopause Support for a rep training course to develop your understanding of menopause and how to support our members.