There is still little awareness of the impact menopause has on the lives of women between the ages of 45 and 55, despite the fact that nearly half of the world’s population has gone through or will undergo this biological shift, hitting the age group during which women are most likely to move to positions of leadership. Alia, a fatal blow in silence from them, for fear of stigma and ridicule in the work environment.
How is it going with menopause?
In practice, “menopause” refers to the passage of 12 months without a menstrual period, but in reality it is a gradual process that develops over months or even years, during which a woman’s fertility decreases. It begins with a decrease in the number of eggs in the ovaries, after there were about 200 thousand competing eggs, the number decreases, the eggs become permeable, and the level of the hormone estrogen drops sharply, causing symptoms of menopause.
The average age for a woman when this happens is 52, but about one in 100 women experiences menopause before the age of 40. Symptoms usually begin a few months or years before the menstrual cycle stops, the stage known as “menopause”, and lasts on average for about four years. However, one in 10 women will experience symptoms for up to 12 years.
Hot flashes are the most striking symptom, as they usually involve a high temperature in the upper body and face, sweating and possibly red spots, profuse night sweats, and hot flashes feel about 80% of women, and 25% of them prevent them from working.
The age at which a woman experiences symptoms of “menopause” is partly inherited from the mother and grandmother, and some clinics offer ultrasound tests that aim to assess the ovarian reserve, so the tests see the most mature egg cells, but they do not see the tiny follicles that produce eggs. So the tests are not accurate in predicting the date of menopause, and genetic tests have not yet succeeded in determining the age of menopause in a woman so far.
Resignation for fear of stigma and ridicule
Some symptoms of menopause cause difficulties for women to work, the most problematic symptoms are: poor concentration, fatigue, poor memory, irritation of the bladder, sleep disturbances, depression, low confidence, and an increased risk of osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s, but women do not want to reveal the problems. Menopause-related health for their managers, especially if they are male or younger than them, which has negative effects on work.
Some studies have indicated that some work situations and environments increase the severity of menopausal symptoms, exacerbate the hot flash crisis, and affect women’s perceptions of the severity of symptoms, making them more stressful for those who suffer from severe embarrassment and try to hide them for fear of stigma and ridicule.
A survey of data with more than 5,000 working women in Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy and South Africa revealed that women still suffer from the stigma associated with menopause in the workplace. In all countries except Italy, a third of women who experienced menopausal symptoms reported that they hid them in the workplace, and did not talk about their feelings to anyone, while more than half of Hispanic women felt ashamed just because they had gone through that period at the workplace.
Women in South Africa seemed more comfortable when expressing menopausal symptoms in the workplace, only 37% of women felt ashamed of this condition, and in Italy the percentage of women who concealed symptoms was less than 28%.
Attempting to deny or distract from the persistent symptoms of menopause in the work environment can be stressful and negatively affect self-confidence; Therefore, shyness from seeking support in the workplace increases for those who suffer from menopausal symptoms before the age of 45 years, and the percentage reaches up to 63% of women who avoid seeking help, compared to only 43% of those who have experienced menopausal symptoms after the age of fifty, which raises some Fears that many women are still leaving the workforce because they struggle with strong symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety and fatigue, withdraw feeling unsupported in the workplace.
Among these women was “Najat”, who felt some strange when she imagined a work environment that supported women during that period, despite her belief in the necessity of that. In her interview with Al-Jazeera.net, Najat recalled the feelings of grievance that she carried to fate, after her symptoms of menopause began at the age of forty, and she entered into a cycle of continuous injections to calm her deadly back pain, and it continues even after 10 years have passed from the onset of the symptoms.
Najat did not dare to justify her resignation from her job as a first teacher of the Arabic language and a strong candidate for running a secondary school, so she withdrew in a bitter silence, remembering her mother who had her menstrual period at the age of sixty, and she only discovered that with her inability to conceive and bear children. 30 years, during which she gave birth 14 times; Fertility, “Najat” thought she would inherit some of it.
Find support and solidarity
According to a study from the Endocrine Society, one in four women will suffer from serious symptoms of menopause, which last between 7 and 14 years, with some resorting to hormone replacement therapy, which makes them more likely to develop breast cancer, or replace it with alternative treatments such as acupuncture or Phyto-estrogen, and all treatments whose effectiveness has not been proven, and upon stopping them, the woman’s suffering will return with “menopause” symptoms.
Surprisingly, some evidence has emerged of the positive effect of some psychological approaches. So a team of researchers published a study that showed that when they helped women with cognitive behavioral therapy, and provided them with support on how to discuss menopause at work, 82% confirmed that their symptoms had lessened, and when they followed up on their findings five months later, the women reported a decrease in the number of hot flashes. They were exposed by a third, their sleep improved significantly, and they reduced their exaggeration in seeing the severity of their symptoms, and 37% of them talked about menopause to their direct manager.
This had a good effect on “Mahasin”. In her interview with “Al-Jazeera.net,” she confirmed that she shared her diaries with her colleagues in the work environment. Female employees in their fifties would gather in a spacious room to have breakfast and check on each other’s health, and share feelings of depression and fluctuations. Mood, what supported the “Mahasin” feeling of solidarity. Mahasin went through menopausal symptoms at the age of 55, and is still dying to this day for those sessions, in which she and her colleagues planned to follow a healthy diet, reduce daily caloric intake, increase their daily activity, and wear wide cotton clothes to reduce the impact of hot flashes. It affected all their health positively.
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