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Menopause: shift work and long hours exacerbate symptoms

Nurses who work long hours with differing shift patterns need better support to cope with worsening menopause symptoms to enable them to stay in post

Nurses who work long hours with differing shift patterns need better support to cope with worsening menopause symptoms to enable them to stay in post

Long hours and changing shift patterns mean nurses are likely to struggle more with menopause symptoms at work, according to an advanced nurse practitioner in menopause.

Nurses’ work patterns can make menopause symptoms worse

It comes as a survey of more than 4,000 UK women found one in ten have quit their jobs due to severe menopause symptoms and a lack of workplace support.

Advanced nurse practitioner and lead nurse menopause Nikki Noble, who works at the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, told Nursing Standard that long hours, shift patterns, and being on your feet

Nurses who work long hours with differing shift patterns need better support to cope with worsening menopause symptoms to enable them to stay in post

Nurses who work long hours with differing shift patterns need better support to cope with worsening menopause symptoms
Picture: iStock

Long hours and changing shift patterns mean nurses are likely to struggle more with menopause symptoms at work, according to an advanced nurse practitioner in menopause.

Nurses’ work patterns can make menopause symptoms worse

It comes as a survey of more than 4,000 UK women found one in ten have quit their jobs due to severe menopause symptoms and a lack of workplace support.

Advanced nurse practitioner and lead nurse menopause Nikki Noble, who works at the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, told Nursing Standard that long hours, shift patterns, and being on your feet for prolonged periods can exacerbate menopausal symptoms.

Advanced nurse practitioner Nikki Noble
Nikki Noble

‘Working shifts can make it more difficult for nurses,’ said Ms Noble.

‘It can be hard to keep a routine and to start very early in the morning when you have had a poor night’s sleep. Many nurses that I have spoken to are concerned about their memory and concentration and worry they could make an error at work and this in turn causes more stress and anxiety.

‘It can be especially difficult for community staff as they may lack access to toilet facilities and changing rooms – if they need to change their uniform due to excessive sweating or unexpected and heavy periods. Wearing personal protective equipment can also increase the amount and intensity of flushes and sweats.’

New research, which featured in a Channel 4 documentary Davina McCall: Sex, Mind and the Menopause, first shown on 2 May, found that 14% of women had reduced their hours at work and 8% had not applied for promotion due to the menopause.

Menopause policies need to be better implemented

The research comes amid a nationwide hormone replacement therapy drugs shortage, leaving many women unable to get their prescription to manage symptoms.

The NHS in England and Wales has a menopause policy, which gives guidance to employers and trusts on supporting staff, as well as encouraging them to record menopause-related sickness so they can gather a better understanding of the impact on the workforce.

RCN women's health forum chair Katharine Gale said that improving the workplace for menopausal nurses would help retain experienced staff.

‘There is an immediate positive effect for employers who are focused on the impact of menopause at work, with better staff morale, performance and retention. Training and creating a supportive culture are where employers should start.’


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