What Employers Need to Know about the effects of Menopause on the Body

by | Dec 13, 2022 | Articles

There continues to be a general lack of information, support and guidance for those of us experiencing menopause symptoms and challenges. We will spend a significant proportion of our lives at work and it is important for us to receive adequate support as we travel through the transition to menopause.

If a worker does not get the help and support they need, it is increasingly likely that the effects of the menopause can lead to them to:

  • feel ill
  • lose confidence to do their job
  • suffer from mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression
  • leave their job.

I know this, because I did!

My Menopause

This was me before I embarked on my journey to understand the many effects of menopause on my body and to discover the many ways I could help myself. It turns out that Movement is a wonderful antidote to the challenges we face as we approach menopause and beyond.

I now use my Physiotherapy knowledge and movement expertise to help individuals, organisations, colleagues and friends to navigate menopause more successfully.

Movement Makes a Difference!

As I delved deeper into the matter of menopause I came to appreciate the role of Movement to manage symptoms. There is not one symptom of menopause that does not respond to us being more active. It is just a question of knowing what will work for you but there are some common themes.

Join me in this video for an opportunity to try some movements together. Please feel free to sit this one out and take care of your bodies. You know them better than I do!


Menopause in the Workplace

You will be hearing more and more about the extent and impact of Menopause on your workforce and the problems encountered in many workplaces and the steps employers should take to tackle this taboo:

  • Provide information,
  • offer training and awareness raising for all staff
  • confidential support for sufferers.

Menopause is NOT…

  • an illness, but it really can feel like one,
  •  optional.
  •  in our minds, but it is in our biology
  • a sign of weakness.
  •  an excuse to dismiss or ridicule women of any age, E

Menopause: The gift that keeps on giving.

25% of women will suffer severe symptoms and some will sail through it with no symptoms at all. But not everyone will be as lucky and there is no rhyme or reason why this is the case.

Women can experience symptoms for months or years before menopause and afterwards. Menopausal symptoms can persist after menstruation has ceased. On average symptoms persist for around 4 years but can last for as long as 12 years once menstruation has stopped.

Checkout the NHS Website for more information

Pre-existing Health Conditions

For those with underlying health conditions, the menopause can exacerbate their existing impairments and health conditions and/or trigger new ones. It is also true that having an underlying health condition can exacerbate the symptoms of Menopause.
Menopause in the workplace: Human Factors
Everyone’s experience of the menopause is individual and can differ greatly. Despite this it is important to realise that whatever our gender identity, sexual orientation, health, or socioeconomic status the symptoms will be exacerbated by negative or discriminatory attitudes in the workplace without exception.

Movement is Medicine!

The good news is there is lots we can do to help ourselves and each other to get the most out of life!
There is not one symptom of menopause that moving more will not help. But I am limiting myself to those symptoms impacting the physical body for this article.

Musculoskeletal Symptoms Include:

  • Joint and Muscle aches and Pains are very common, particularly in the small joints of the hands and feet.
  • Carpal tunnel is a condition where swelling in the carpal tunnel at the wrist compresses the nerve and causes pins and needles and dead hands. Often waking us in the early hours further disrupts sleep.
  • Tendinopathies such as plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder and knee pain are common as collagen in tendons and ligaments is altered.
  • Low back pain is already the most common workplace musculoskeletal disorder. with 42% of the 477,000 workers suffering from work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2021/22 having low back pain. (Source: HSE Work-related musculoskeletal disorders statistics in Great Britain, 2022)
  • Remember that menopause can exacerbate a pre existing health condition.

Consider the Long Term Health Effects of Menopause on the Body

Conditions which can be linked to declining oestrogen levels include:

  • Osteoporosis or thinning of the bones. This leads to an increased risk of fractures of the wrist, hips and the spine.
  • Loss of muscle mass and strength called Sarcopenia can lead to weakness and reduced capacity.
  • Pelvic floor Dysfunction ie Bladder, Bowel dysfunction, and sexual dysfunction, or the Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM), is common amongst peri and post Menopausal women. GSM has a significant impact on emotional wellbeing and activities of daily living.

Build a Culture of Health

Although each individual has responsibility for their own health, workplaces can offer support for individuals as we navigate this transition. Building healthy workplace cultures with more engaged employees will reduce stress and burnout and nurture healthier and more active employees.

  • Examine the current:
  • psychosocial factors
  • Tasks, workload and work patterns.
  • Working environment and workplace design.
  • Workplace culture and communication.
  • Leadership and resources.
  • Policies, programs and procedures.

Steps Employers Should Take

Offer reasonable adjustments in consultation with the individual and their representative to help manage symptoms of menopause and reduce the impact on a person’s work and their wellbeing in the workplace. In the context of menopause reasonable adjustments could include:

  • Home working,
  • Flexibility around working days or shift patterns,
  • More frequent breaks,
  • Pace of work allows for recovery between tasks
  • Access to natural light
  • Ensuring good ventilation in the workplace,
  • Providing more comfortable uniforms or relaxing uniform guidelines.

All this can help menopausal women manage their symptoms around their work and reduce the stigma attached to menopause.

My area of expertise: problems and solutions pertinent to the physical body.

I may be repeating myself but there is pretty much not one symptom of Menopause that being more Physically active will not help! And I have put together my programmes to include the movements that will help the most
What should we be doing?

Be Strong:

1. If you have a physical job you need to be fit enough to do it without injury.
2. Strength Training increases physical endurance and the resilience of tissues thus decreases risk of injury.
3. Strength training can reduce the risk of having a fracture.
4. Studies have found that both resistance and aerobic exercise training increase muscle mass and improve function irrespective of age.
5. Strength training is good for the brain BDNF promotes survival of brain cells and regular exercise decreases risk of dementia by 30%.

Note: It is important to get support and supervision if you are new to resistance training. When adding a load to a movement the risk of injury is increased so technique really matters,

Be Steady:

The inability to stand on one leg for 10 seconds in mid to later life is linked to a near doubling in the risk of death from any cause within the next 10 years, according to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. One thing is for sure, practice makes for improvement!

Try This:
Stand on 1 leg to brush your teeth or while the kettle boils

Be Straight:

Posture and how we hold our bodies as we perform tasks of daily life matters.

  1. A rounded upper back can contribute to shoulder pain and problems.
  2. A head forward posture overloads the muscles of the neck.
  3. Sitting flexed for more than 20 minutes at a time can overstretch ligaments.
  4. Rounded Shoulders can impact on the quality and range of movement at the neck.

The solution is to release and stretch tight muscles and strengthen the postural muscles that hold us up. You may need guidance to translate this advice into action.

It doesn’t have to be hard to do you good!

Only 10 minutes of light activity increases electrical activity in the hippocampus; centre for learning, memory, mood and emotion in the brain. We see increases in the volume of the hippocampus in response to activity and it’s never too late.

Stress Management is so important around this time. Techniques Include Mindful movement approaches like pilates and yoga, Breathwork and guided relaxation or Meditation.

Try This
Check in with how you are feeling, Take 6 slow full breaths and notice the difference.

Make Healthy Workplaces A Priority

If you are looking for support to implement wellness programmes for your workforce, look no further. Book me to deliver wellness workshops, speak at your away- days, support your events and conferences. I offer corporate packages tailored to your specific requirements. Email your queries to:

Wellness direct to your inbox

What about my Workplace Weekly Wellness Wisdoms straight to your inbox. Tips, resources and suggestions to educate, support and motivate individuals to embrace movement every day.

Share my skills on your corporate wellness website

I write bespoke articles and blogs supported by engaging video content tackling key health challenges for companies.

Moving through Menopause: The Podcast

I have recorded more than 100 episodes on my podcast Moving through Menopause and I am very happy for you to direct people towards this FREE RESOURCE.

PRECIZION LTD Your one stop shop for movement expertise.

Author: Phillipa Butler Chartered Physiotherapist and Certified Pilates and Yoga Teacher.

Pilates for Menopause for Massage Therapists and Manual Therapists  - NAT Diploma Course with Precizion 10 CEUs

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Interested to learn Pilates or Yoga?

Join Precizion for regular online Pilates and Yoga classes.  All led by Phillipa Butler, a Chartered Physiotherapist, Clinical Pilates and Women’s Health Expert. One-on-one consultations also available.

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