Women’s health and the dilemma of disclosure #isitadisability? #HRessentialread

Women’s health and the dilemma of disclosure #isitadisability? #HRessentialread

Deciding whether or not to tell an employer about a health condition such as PMDD and Endometriosis can be very difficult. To make it harder, there is a lot of confusion around whether these conditions are seen as a disability, or not.


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“I don't have hot flashes. I have short private vacations, in tropical-like conditions.”

Every woman will go through the Menopause*.

By 2020 it is estimated that 1 in 3 British workers will be over 50. This means that more women than ever will experience the menopause at work. 

Menopause signifies a time in a woman’s life when her ovaries stop producing eggs and her periods stop. This frequently happens between the age of 45 – 55; however, women can also encounter early menopause in their 20’s or 30’s. The average age in the UK is 51. 

Some women breeze through a problem-free menopause. However, for many women, this natural process is a time of anxiety and distress as a result of the symptoms that often accompany it. 25% of women currently going through the menopause have considered leaving work because of their experiences (Wellbeing of Women survey, 2016). Two thirds of women going through the menopause say they have no support in place at work (Wellbeing of Women survey, 2016).

The most commonly associated symptom with menopause is hot flushes. Indeed, these affect three in four women. Some lesser known physical symptoms include night sweats, insomnia and urinary tract infections. 

The less visible, psychological symptoms are perhaps most distressing for women, as decreasing levels of oestrogen can cause significant changes in emotional wellbeing. As such, the menopause can feel like an emotional rollercoaster, resulting in mood swings, anxiety and depression.  

It is important to recognise that every woman will experience menopause differently. Symptoms vary greatly in duration, severity and impact. However, most women are likely to experience physical and psychological symptoms, as a result of diminishing oestrogen. Some of these can be incredibly distressing and debilitating.

SEE HER THRIVE™ can equip you and your team with the knowledge and skills to confidently support staff that may be experiencing menopause symptoms. We also provide workshops for female employees, which focus on the symptoms of menopause and how to cope with them. Workshops can be tailored to suit your business and can be full day, half day, or ‘power hour’ sessions.

To book a workshop, or for further information, get in touch at clare@seeherthrive.com

*Exceptions to this are trans women and those who had their ovaries removed before starting their periods. 

Why you should introduce a policy for women's health

  • 58% of women say that a day at home would make menstruation (periods) more bearable.
  • 52% of women indicate that not having to make an excuse when feeling unwell as a result of menstruation, would make their period a better experience. 
  • 24% of women suggest that being able to ask for what they need from their employer, would help with menstruation (periods).
  • 26% of women who have gone through menopause, say that being able to take time off work when needed would have helped their transition. 

Findings come from an online, global survey of 3,400 people, in addition to 22 focus groups. The research was carried out by the Victorian Women’s Trust, from 2013-2016.  

Following the survey, the organisation introduced a Menstrual Policy, which recognises that sickness and menstrual related absence should be treated differently: 

“You are not sick when you have your period, it is a completely natural health reality. Equally, you are not sick when you are sleep-deprived due to symptoms related to menopause. So why do so many women need to take sick leave while masking the real reason that they cannot perform their work duties?” – Victorian Women’s Trust.

Many women I’ve spoken to have been put on absence-related capability measures, as a result of their menstrual health issues. Some have actually been fired as a direct result of menstrual related absence. This has to change. 

 

Find out more about introducing a Women's Health Policy in your organisation and get in touch at clare@seeherthrive.com