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Men and the Menopause

05 June 2024

Miss Menopause - Sharon McArthur

Story by
Sharon MacArthur Founder, Miss Menopause

Menopause and Men

Sharon MacArthur, leading menopause educator and founder of Miss Menopause explains why menopause education isn’t just for women of a certain age.

Many women have no idea what to expect when it comes to menopause, and that often means their managers, colleagues, husbands, partners, might know even less.

Menopause and the symptoms it brings can have a significant effect on women’s lives. Being aware of what their female colleagues are going through is equally as important for men. Here’s why knowledge is power.

Offering menopause support in the workplace

Do you work with, or manage women? If so, knowing about menopause will become essential. Many women going through menopause may feel reluctant to talk to their manager about their symptoms, particularly if their manager is male. Instead, they might struggle on, afraid that if they disclose their symptoms, it may look like they can’t cope or do their job well. Sadly many women begin to believe they have early onset dementia as their memory recall for the simplest things can fail. Imagine how terrifying that might feel?

Most women need more advice and support at work, or organisations face losing some very valuable talent. It’s estimated up to 10% of women consider giving up work because of their symptoms. This is a real business issue.

This situation could be avoided with more education and awareness around menopause, as well as putting clear supportive pathways in place for all. So if you work with, or manage women who are going through the menopause, here’s how you, and your organisation can offer support.

Managers

All line managers should receive training about menopause, making sure to include your male managers. This isn’t information for women of a certain age but should be made available for everyone. Allowing a safe space for your people to share their stories. Listening without judgement is one of the most important things you can do as a manager, creating a safe place to share. Knowledge will help to create empathy and understanding.

Think about the indirect risk of menopause

In the last six months I’ve been working in very male dominated workplaces. Often the standard response is ‘we don’t work with women why do we need to know this stuff?’

If you identity as male heterosexual the chances are you will be going home to wives, partners and girlfriends who will all at some point be going through menopause, even if you don’t closely work with female colleagues this information is going to be really useful.

Think of the health and safety risk to your male work force too. Many women don’t sleep during menopause leaving their partners sleep deprived. What about male colleagues who drive, operate equipment or have to work on complex tasks. What is their health and safety risk or the risk to their productivity? Menopause is a business issue which will impact everyone either directly or indirectly. This is learning you can take home with you.

In the last six plus years I’ve met 100’s of men who’ve told me that attending my awareness sessions have probably helped to save their marriage. When a wife or partner is going through menopause and experiencing symptoms like mood swings, fatigue, anxiety, hot flushes and more, many men might walk on eggshells, not knowing what to do.

Only a couple of weeks ago a male colleague told me that while I’d been talking light bulbs had been going off in his head but sadly we’d met three years too late. He was now convinced menopause was the reason his 27 year old marriage had come to an end. He had no clue and neither did his, then wife. His mental health had suffered because of it.

Think of all of those men who are suffering with poor mental health where the root cause could be the break down of their relationship due to menopause. We have an ageing work force in the UK this trend will only increase.

Understanding the symptoms of menopause

The main problem is a lack of education and awareness around the menopause for everyone. Most people are still in the dark about this subject. Menopause symptoms can be debilitating and can significantly affect day to day life often lasting for years. Symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble concentrating and remembering things
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Loss of libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Hot flushes and night sweats

Make reasonable adjustments

The great news is many of the adjustments you may need are already in place. Simplicity is the key. Things like temperature controls, ventilation, access to toilet facilities and cool drinking water are all things to think about and things most companies already have in place. Menopause is a natural part of life, and if it’s met with understanding, women, their colleagues, managers and partners will be able to navigate it much more easily.

Stitching menopause into your current processes rather than writing a stand alone policy will help your people to understand where menopause fits in and make menopause business as usual.

Creating Male Allies

When you get the learning right and engage male colleagues in the conversation they can become great supporters and allies. I’ve had many men tell me they now appear to know more than the women in their lives because of the training they have received.

Organisations are starting to understand that menopause is a business issue which will impact everyone of of their colleagues. This means if it’s not part of your mental heath, wellbeing and EDI plans there is a huge gap.

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