Understanding Menopause: signs, symptoms and support

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As a current hot topic headlining the media and social media, the subject can make for some pretty grim reading.

From the ‘banter’ women endure about the physical symptoms they suffer, through to the brain fog that impacts their usual mental capacity, to the crippling anxiety that can prevent a normally bright and confident woman from even getting out of her front door.

The lack of knowledge and understanding of menopause and how it can impact women in their day to day lives is quite frightening.

The mental symptoms that accompany this transitional time however seem to be much harder to bear, not just because of the impact on the woman but also because of the damage that misunderstanding or a misdiagnosis/delay in diagnosis can do.

Symptoms such as anxiety, mood changes, short term memory issues, brain fog and lack of motivation might easily be put down to resulting from the demands of work, the pressures of family life or perhaps pre-existing personal issues.

No one likes to admit that they can’t cope, let alone admit to a GP (or anyone else) but without professional support, women may find it much harder to cope with something that they do not fully comprehend.

The symptoms of menopause are wide-ranging and can be easily misinterpreted. Often misdiagnosed as depression or anxiety with no further underlying cause, the psychiatric symptoms of menopause can be so complex and severe that they can drive women to suicide.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) over the last five years shows that suicide rates for women are consistently highest among those aged between 45 to 64 and it’s no coincidence that this covers the menopause stage.

Fortunately, though, there is hope.

The website Menopausesupport.co.uk is leading three campaigns:

  1. to significantly improve menopause education amongst GPs
  2. to raise awareness in the workplace and for employers to have guidelines in place to support women suffering from symptoms
  3. for menopause education to be provided in the school PSHE curriculum for teenage boys and girls.

This last campaign has already been successful and the result of this will mean breaking down the taboo of menopause and an enhanced understanding and compassion for women who are going through menopause.

Women who are impacted at work by discrimination or who are punished for taking time off to manage their symptoms are able to bring employment tribunal claims:

For the 72% of women who have felt unsupported in the workplace, unable to speak to a manager or colleague about the symptoms they are experiencing and how they are impacting their working life, there is a gradual move by companies to establish their own Menopause Policy including procedures and support for staff experiencing the menopause.

Ashtons Legal is promoting understanding amongst its staff by running seminars to educate staff about the issues that arise over menopause and encouraging support and an open conversation about the difficulties and challenges that women face at this point.


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