24 October 2023
Our Ref: P4/23
To: All Branches
World Menopause Month – October 2023
October marks Menopause Awareness Month. We’re once again putting the spotlight on the menopause and our support for those members experiencing menopausal symptoms. The month is to raise awareness, break the stigma and highlight the support options available for improving health and wellbeing.
British Menopause Society ‘Menopause, Misinformation and Management’
The conversation around menopause is getting louder but there is still a lot of misinformation. The British Menopause Society this year produced, in partnership with ITN Business, a news-style programme, hosted by Louise Minchin, to support both World Menopause Month and Day. In the programme British Menopause Society medical professionals aim to dispel menopause misinformation, talking to businesses and employers about best-practice menopause policies and providing information and practical menopause advice for younger women. A recording of the ‘YouTube’ menopause programme ‘Menopause Misinformation and Management’ is available to watch for those who couldn’t watch the live launch at this link: https://thebms.org.uk/news/world-menopause-day-2023/ (See attached press release).
Websites with good, comprehensive Menopause advice and guidance are:
This is an independent, award winning website providing up to date, accurate information about the menopause, menopausal symptoms and treatment options. On this site you’ll find lots of excellent information on what happens leading up to, during and after the menopause, what the consequences can be, what you can do to help and what treatments are available.
Menu of items covered:
Menopause and HRT after Hysterectomy
Diet, Lifestyle and Exercise
Menopause at Work
Hormone Replacement Therapy
A to Z of menopause and medical conditions
‘Henpicked’ is one of the UK’s largest, fastest-growing websites for women, here to give women a place to have their say, sparking discussion, promoting healthy debate and, aiming to bring about positive change. ‘Henpicked’ is a dynamic community of women who want to help one another with news and views on a number of subjects with women supporting women. ‘Henpicked’ has a special website section on ‘Menopause in the Workplace’ covering awareness, toolkits and training and their menopause in the workplace experts provide line manager and colleague training, videos, eLearning, policy and communications expertise.
‘Daisy Network’ Charity
Daisy Network is a charity dedicated to providing information and support to women diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency, also known as Premature Menopause.
Other Good Informative Websites covering The Menopause:
NHS guidance on the menopause: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/
Women’s health concerns: https://www.womens-health-concern.org/help-and-advice/factsheets/menopause/
Menopause matters: https://www.menopausematters.co.uk/
Menopause exchange: https://www.menopause-exchange.co.uk/
Manage my menopause: https://www.managemymenopause.co.uk/
‘GenM’ say that we ‘need to talk’ more openly about menopause and need to stop teaching women to make do and mend in this period in their lives. ‘GenM’ have published a report – The ‘GenM’ Menopause Invisibility Report’ (copy attached) which revealed the distinct lack of education and support for people going through the menopause. ‘GenM’ called upon companies and employers to open up the conversation and help normalize menopause for future generations. Royal Mail Group has signed up to that agenda.
‘GenM’ is seeking to make menopause a more positive experience for everyone. According to ‘GenM’ women going through the menopause often feel “alone and invisible” due to a lack of knowledge, as well as the lack of choices offered to them by employers. According to ‘GenM’s’ Invisibility Report, which was published last year, 87% of menopausal people feel overlooked by society and by employers. 97% feel employers should cater more to the needs and wants of menopausal people; and 91% have never seen specific advertising or marketing for menopausal products.
There are 15.5 million perimenopausal and menopausal people throughout the UK, and it’s abundantly clear that they are underserved, and deserve much better state ‘GenM’.
‘GenM’ has previously worked hard to improve the treatment of menopausal people in the workplace through its ‘Choose to Challenge campaign’. ‘GenM’ say that menopause is not just a workplace issue, but a societal one.
‘GenM’ state that there are 48 symptoms of menopause, yet most women can only name between three and five. So if women don’t even know the symptoms of their own menopause, how can we expect men to? How can we expect employers and organisations to? They want ‘brands’ to create products that cater to them, and market those products accordingly so that women know what is available to them?
‘GenM’ want major brands to cater to their menopausal customers and to normalise the conversation around menopause, as well as create and market products that will cater to the needs of menopausal people.
Major brands including M&S and Boots have already joined ‘GenM’ in co-signing an open letter to the industry asking major brands from all sectors to pledge to better understand the needs of those going through menopause, use their platforms to normalise the conversation around the topic, and review how their policies, products and services can improve the menopause experience.
‘GenM’ also wants companies to develop their internal teams so they can support their menopausal employees. (See attached the ‘GenM’ Menopause Invisibility Report’).
Fawcett Society Study
In 2022, the Fawcett Society, UK membership charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights at work, at home and in public life published a study based on data from the largest ever survey of menopausal and peri-menopausal women in the UK which revealed a lack of support for often severe symptoms which mean the needs of menopausal women are being ignored both in workplaces and by healthcare providers. The survey was commissioned by Channel 4 and collected data from over 4,000 women.
The findings showed:
77% find at least one menopause symptom ‘very difficult’.
44% of women experience three or more symptoms that are this severe.
84% of women say they find sleeping difficult.
73% suffered brain fog.
69% suffered anxiety or depression.
44% of menopausal women said their ability to work has been affected by their symptoms.
80% of menopausal women said their workplace has no basic support in place for them. No support networks. No absence policies. No information sharing with staff.
21% of women who have to wear uniform or a dress code to work found it uncomfortable given their symptoms.
81% of menopausal women say every employer should have an action plan on the menopause.
The report uncovers the stigma many women face, saying they have seen menopause or menopause symptoms treated as a joke by people at work. Among women who had taken time off due to menopause, 40% had cited anxiety or depression as the main reason on their sick note, rather than share their menopause status.
Almost half (45%) of women haven’t spoken to their GP about their symptoms. 31% said it took many appointments before their GP realised they were experiencing menopause or perimenopause. Official guidance says that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) should be offered to women who are struggling with menopause symptoms, but just 39% of women say their GP or nurse offered HRT as soon as they knew they were experiencing menopause, and only 14% of menopausal women said that they are currently taking HRT. Current HRT shortages have been widely reported as due to increased demand – but this evidence suggests that we are only seeing the beginning of the potential rise in uptake.
The report concludes that the Government needs to make urgent changes, requiring employers to have menopause action plans, to creating a route into menopause healthcare, to ensuring that GPs are adequately trained to spot menopause symptoms. For too long, menopause has been shrouded in stigma, we need to break the culture of silence and ensure menopausal women are treated with the dignity and support they deserve instead of being expected to just get on with it. The Fawcett Society called on the Government to respond to these findings by:
Requiring employers to have menopause action plans.
Make flexible work the default.
Implementing a public information campaign – 87% of menopausal women agree that all women in their 40s or 50s should be sent a list of menopause symptoms by the NHS, and 81% agree that Government should run a public campaign to inform people about the menopause.
Inviting every woman in her 40s or 50s to speak with her GP about menopause – 87% of women agree this should happen.
Ensuring GPs receive mandatory training to help diagnose menopause earlier – 94% of women agree that every GP practice should have someone who is trained on the menopause.
(See attached Fawcett Society Report ‘Menopause and the Workplace’).
A 2018 ‘ComRes’ study looking at how the menopause affects women at work and in their relationships, and the treatments they found effective found:
70% of working women didn’t want to make their employers aware of their menopause symptoms.
48% felt that their mental health had suffered as a result of the menopause.
25% said that the menopause made them want to stay at home.
King’s College Study
A 2018 ‘King’s College London’ study looked at how symptoms of menopause affect women’s work and careers and found women struggling with menopause symptoms. The study concluded that a simple self-help cognitive behavioural therapy programme, provided in short practical and accessible guidance on the subject and coping at work, would have a positive effect, helping to reduce the degree to which women felt their symptoms were causing them problems and improving the way in which they felt they could discuss menopause in the work place, thus challenging the stereotypical belief that women in menopause are ‘past it’.
The study found many women suffering from these debilitating symptoms and feeling unsupported during the menopause with some dropping out of the work force. This natural process has been overlooked and considered a taboo for too long it concluded. Findings from the study:
In the UK 1 in 3 UK workers are over 50. All female workers will go through the menopause. The average age of menopause for women in the UK is 51. Some begin in their early 40’s and for others it can go on into their late 50’s and beyond.
3 in 4 women experience menopause symptoms and 1 in 4 of these women experience severe physical or psychological symptoms.
4 out of 10 women haven’t ever consulted their GP about symptoms of menopause.
Employers should do more to provide support and better protect these women.
Royal Mail Group Menopause Support Package For Women:
Royal Mail Group currently has around 17,000 women employees who are likely to be experiencing menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms – so as one of the UK’s largest employers – it matters to them! Following discussions with the Royal Mail Group’s Head of Health and Wellbeing last year a new ‘Let’s Talk Menopause’ campaign, to enhance the support afforded to women employees experiencing and indeed suffering menopausal symptoms was launched. And it’s there for partners too.
Royal Mail stated in launching the new campaign that; “Most women will come up against menopausal symptoms, but that’s not to assume every person’s experience will be the same. Royal Mail Group want employees to feel they can have the conversation and seek the support they need however the menopause is impacting them. RMG doesn’t want any woman in our business to feel that they’re unable to do their job or progress their career – RMG wants everyone to feel at their very best.”
To strengthen the company’s commitment and agree a step change in menopause support, Royal Mail Group signed up to the ‘Wellbeing For Women Menopause Workplace Pledge’ and in doing so, Royal Mail Group committed to:
Recognising that the menopause can be an issue in the workplace and women need support.
Talking openly, positively and respectfully about the menopause.
Actively supporting and informing employees affected by the menopause.
The New Enhanced RMG Menopause Support Package included:
A new RMG ‘Let’s Talk Menopause’ Intranet Group.
‘Meno-Mates’ – local volunteers to help to raise awareness, listen and signpost their colleagues to available support.
Menopause Toolkit – Confidential and available 24/7 for employees seeking assistance, referrals, including direct access to counselling, support, advice and guidance, conversations, articles, programmes, signposting, physical help and advice on reasonable adjustments, modified duties, flexible working, quiet space etc.
Menopause awareness eLearning – Training for managers, ‘Meno-Mates’ and CWU Reps.
BMS Press Release
Gen-M Invisibility Report
Fawcett Society ‘Menopause and the Workplace’ Report
Women’s Health Concern ‘Menopause Factsheet’
Dave Joyce National Health, Safety & Environment Officer