Nursing through menopause: why reasonable adjustments might help
Nurses struggling to keep working during perimenopause and menopause should ask employers for support to ease the burden of distressing symptoms
Nurses going through the menopause are more likely to quit their jobs because employers fail to support them if they experience challenging symptoms.
And some move to less stressful roles or take more time off because their symptoms cause them embarrassment or distress, advanced menopause specialist Debra Holloway said.
‘Menopause is silently affecting millions of working women,’ she told a seminar at the RCN’s annual congress in Glasgow.
‘We’re less likely to go for promotion, we’re less satisfied with our jobs and our roles and we’re more likely to quit.’
A (2022) study by researchers at University College London found early menopause reduced the time women spent at work in their early fifties.
I’m a women’s health specialist and I didn’t recognise my own symptoms
RCN women’s health forum Katharine Gale chair told the seminar how, despite almost three decades working as a nurse in women’s health, she did not recognise her own severe symptoms as the perimenopause.
‘I thought I was going mad,’ said Ms Gale, who is currently researching the impact of menopause on women working in the NHS.
‘I was working long hours as a senior nurse, and for those around me I looked like I was thriving, and yet I was barely surviving. I was thrown off course by my own body and the intensity and severity of the symptoms.
‘But I hadn’t thought to ask my GP whether my symptoms of anxiety, insomnia and fatigue were the start of my journey on the menopause.’
Ask for reasonable adjustments in your workplace
Ms Gale and Ms Holloway urged nurses to request reasonable adjustments at work while going through the menopause, including simple changes such as considerations for room temperature and uniform to mediate hot flushes.
‘You shouldn’t need to beg for these adjustments, you shouldn’t need to wait,’ said Ms Gale.
‘It can be hard to overcome these issues, but it’s what we need to help us keep doing the job we love.’
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is reviewing diagnosis and treatment guidance for menopause, due to be published in August 2023.
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