The community in which we work is sometimes beneficial, and it is at times a major obstacle to career advancement. For women going through menopause, the workplace must understand and make appropriate changes, especially for those who are in the medical profession.
For senior doctors with menopausal symptoms, this is particularly the case where a casual attitude affects doctors who take leadership roles and provide their valuable expertise to the NHS. And with 30,000 physicians in the 45 to 54 year age range at risk of menopausal symptoms right now. Hence their needs must be met.
In particular, as the composition of the population shifts, this number is going to increase and, of course, we already have a shortage of senior doctors. Menopause lasts four years on average, and it maybe four years when seasoned physicians will leave the NHS or take a step back from leading their teams. If menopause is adequately understood as a concern in the workplace and the right treatment is offered, we will keep doctors who can not afford to lose the health service.
But it’s something we don’t talk about menopause and its effects on our working lives. Men and women are completely unprepared for how to deal with menopause in the workplace because it is a fairly taboo subject, and trusts in this field seldom have a menopause policy or training. Add to that the question that it is very difficult for doctors to talk about something that affects their performance.
A survey was conducted among 2000 doctors in this age group, who have told us that 93 percent have had symptoms, with two-thirds of the senior doctors having physical and mental symptoms.
And 90 percent thought it impacted their work alarmingly, with almost two-fifths considering it significant. Predictably, almost 40 percent wanted to make improvements because of the lack of knowledge for managers, but almost half wanted to address the topic with managers but felt awkward doing so.
The Equalities Act 2010 and the Disability Discrimination Act are applicable here, so you are entitled to fair changes if menopause creates an impairment in how you function, although this is seldom provided.
The culture of sniggering about women of a certain generation must be modified. To care for patients, older doctors are important, and we have to keep them. We need to start talking about menopause freely and without gender ageism to do so.