Navigating Periods & the Menopause at Work

Navigating Periods & the Menopause at Work

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Periods and the menopause affect around half of the population. But why is there still so much stigma when talking about them at work?

The reality is that many people feel embarrassed or uncomfortable talking about their symptoms to colleagues and managers. 

But, we spend a lot of time at work and hormones don’t exactly work to our meeting schedules, so it’s up to employers to do more to break the stigma & open up the conversation at work. 

N/B: Not everyone who has periods/the menopause is a woman, and not every woman experiences periods/the menopause. These experiences are personal, and vary from person to person. 

Read on to find out how we’re tackling the stigma at Ben…

How can periods affect wellbeing at work? 

Period symptoms can make working to full capacity super challenging. If you’re feeling unwell, we want to support you to do whatever you need to feel better. 

Data from CIPD found 74% of people with periods hide sanitary products while at work, a further 60% are uncomfortable discussing period symptoms with colleagues, and over 80% suffer from period pain. It’s important to keep in mind that symptoms can vary in severity from person to person, and even from cycle to cycle.

There are also many other symptoms associated with periods that can make working normally difficult, e.g.,

  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) 
  • Lower abdominal cramps
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Nausea/sickness
  • Irregular periods
  • Heavy bleeding 

On top of this, there are other conditions which can affect periods, such as Endometriosis or Fibroids. All these factors can make working to full capacity super challenging. So, it’s important that employees know about the support they have available to them. 

How can the menopause affect wellbeing at work?

The menopause happens, on average, between age 45 and 55. It’s a natural part of ageing when people stop having periods. The transition period is called ‘perimenopause’ and happens over the course of around 4 years, but can be much longer for some people. The process ends with ‘menopause’ once there has been no period for 12 months. 

Symptoms can be physical and/or psychological, with common symptoms including:

  • Hot flushes and/or night sweats
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Loss of confidence
  • Irregular periods
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Joint stiffness
  • Urinary problems
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Irritability

The menopause is often misunderstood, especially when it comes to how it affects people at work. This is partly because of the stigma around talking about it. But with menopausal people being the fastest growing workplace demographic, it’s important to make sure everyone feels supported.

Supporting your team

Symptoms of both periods and menopause can make working as usual super difficult. It’s our responsibility as employers to make sure we have all the processes in place to support our team’s as much as possible. 

If you’re looking for some inspo for how you can support your team, here’s how we do it at Ben:

  1. We want everyone to take full advantage of our flexible working policy. If that means stepping away from their desk and going for a walk to ease period pain, or working from the comfort of their home, our team can do so - no questions asked.
  1. To help look after our team’s mental health on days they’re not feeling their best, we’ve partnered with Oliva to give them access to 24/7 mental health care.
  1. If periods are causing someone extreme physical pain, sometimes seeking medical care is the best option. If our team needs to speak to a specialist, they’re covered through private medical care.
  1. The only way to break the stigma is to open up the conversation about it. We want to encourage open dialogue and will support this in our culture and as we continue to grow.
  1. We don’t expect anyone to work when they’re unwell. Be it period pain, headaches, or poor mental health - our sick leave policy means they can take time off to do what it takes to feel better. 

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