Navigating Perimenopause in the workplace

By Kirstye Todd, Dispex Tutor

Menopause, a natural phase in a woman’s life, can usher in significant changes and challenges, particularly
within a fast-paced dispensary. In dispensing practices, where efficiency and patient care are paramount,
addressing perimenopausal-related issues is pivotal for maintaining productivity and well-being.

In this article, we’ll delve into the importance of health promotion at work around menopause and offer
practical tips for helping employees managing peri-menopausal symptoms.

Understanding Menopause: Menopause signifies the end of a woman’s reproductive years, typically
occurring in her late 40s to early 50s. However, the transition to menopause, known as perimenopause,
may commence much earlier sometimes as early as in woman’s 30s or 40s.

During this phase, hormonal fluctuations can trigger a myriad of physical and emotional symptoms. The
more commonly known ones encompass hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, fatigue, and difficulties

Recent research into perimenopause has brought to light newly recognised symptoms or variations in
existing ones. These may include:

Brain fog: Many women report cognitive changes during perimenopause, often dubbed “brain fog,” which
can manifest as memory lapses, concentration difficulties, and decision-making challenges.

Sleep disturbances: Insomnia and night sweats have long been recognized, but recent studies reveal
intricate links between hormonal fluctuations and sleep patterns during this transitional phase.

Joint pain: Some women experience joint discomfort or stiffness, possibly linked to hormonal shifts or
changes in physical activity levels.

Digestive issues: Symptoms like bloating, gas, and alterations in bowel habits have surfaced in some women
during perimenopause, possibly tied to hormonal changes or lifestyle adjustments.

Headaches: Increased headaches or migraines might occur, potentially influenced by hormonal changes,
stress, or sleep disturbances.

Anxiety and Depression: Mental health symptoms, including anxiety and depression, may emerge or
intensify during perimenopause, influenced by hormonal fluctuations, life stressors, and psychological

(It’s essential to recognize that not all women will experience these symptoms and individual experiences
may vary widely. Symptoms
of perimenopause can overlap with other medical conditions, underscoring
the importance of consulting your own GP for proper evaluation and management).

Despite its significance, menopause is often overlooked in workplace health promotion efforts. Yet, raising
awareness about menopause and its impact on work performance and well-being is vital. Women,
constituting about 77% of the NHS workforce, play a pivotal role in GP practices across the UK. Given
their invaluable
contributions, many women navigate the intricate journey of perimenopause, where
symptoms can significantly impact their daily work life.

What can practices do to help employees experiencing Perimenopause symptoms at work?

Open communication: Foster an environment where colleagues and managers can openly discuss
menopause. Creating a supportive atmosphere can alleviate anxiety and promote understanding.

Flexible work arrangements: Explore options like flexible working hours to accommodate fluctuating
energy levels and symptoms, empowering employees to manage their workload while prioritizing self-care.

Comfortable work environment: Make adjustments to enhance comfort for those experiencing symptoms,
such as providing access to fans or adjusting thermostat settings.

Regular breaks: Encourage employees to take their breaks to rest and recharge, which can alleviate fatigue
and improve concentration.

Stress management techniques: Offer access to learning about stress management techniques, such as
deep breathing exercises or mindfulness meditation, to help employees cope with mood swings and reduce
stress levels.

Access to Resources: Provide access to menopause resources and support services, including workshops,
online resources, or signposting to other relevant professionals.

Peer Support Networks: Establish peer support groups where individuals can connect, share experiences,
and offer mutual support.

Seeking guidance and support from their GP is also encouraged if additional assistance with symptoms is

By promoting awareness, understanding, and practical support measures, all GP practices can foster a more
inclusive and supportive environment for employees navigating this transition.

Let’s empower women to manage their perimenopause symptoms and thrive in their healthcare roles.