Hannah Wilkinson is Head of Delivery at Razor and she wants to break the taboo surrounding menopause, help normalise the symptoms and encourage support and understanding. This is no ordinary work blog, let’s get down and open about something that is likely to affect half of our workforce… let’s talk menopause…
Today is World Menopause Day, a day aimed at raising awareness and supporting the health and well-being of people going through menopause. I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts and feelings about menopause as well as sharing some awesome FemTech products I’ve discovered. 💪
I used to think that menopause only affected people who were at a later stage in life. I thought I had loads more time until I had to experience it, so when I started having symptoms it came as a bit of a shock. But before we get into that, let’s talk about what menopause actually is.
What is menopause?
So, menopause is when your periods stop due to hormonal changes and it’s officially diagnosed when you haven’t had a period for at least a year. This usually happens when you’re between 45 and 55, but can happen even earlier. I was surprised by how young this age bracket was!
Another thing I didn’t know about is perimenopause. People in their 30s can start having menopausal symptoms while still having their periods, this is called being perimenopausal.
And in case you’re wondering, yes you’ve read this right. You can be suffering from menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms for many, many years before you’re officially diagnosed. Sounds fun right? Luckily, it’s not all bad, especially if you can start to understand the symptoms (and be able to support your colleagues!)!
Need some help identifying the symptoms of menopause? Don’t worry, I’ve got you.
The symptoms of menopause
The list of menopause symptoms is ridiculously large, and some of the things on the list can be quite a surprise. But I wanted to share with you the symptoms that might make your workday a bit more challenging than normal.
- Anxiety - being anxious at work sucks and can make your interactions with colleagues less enjoyable
- Low self-esteem - losing confidence in your ability and skills really isn’t the best
- Brain fog and poor concentration - you know what it's like when a word is on the tip of your tongue but you can’t find it? Well, this is a bit like that, but for more than just words - yay
- Problems with memory - I forgot what I was going to say about that 😂
- Hot flushes - who doesn't want to get unbearably hot and sweaty during an important meeting
- Difficulty sleeping - a bad night's sleep sets you up for a really rubbish day. Even when you consume all the caffeine
- Headaches and migraines - ocular migraines are no joke and can make it hard to look at your screen
- Muscle aches and joint pains - they can make sitting at your desk for long periods of time quite uncomfortable
These sound fun right? It can be a challenge trying to manage these symptoms and continue to be your brilliant self at work.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, I promise! When it feels a bit much, I like to remember this Michelle Obama quote and I always feel more empowered.
“The changes, the highs and lows, and the hormonal shifts, there is power in that.” -Michelle Obama
So, how can you help support your colleagues who are adjusting to menopause and finding themselves not feeling quite like their usual awesome selves at work?
Supporting your menopausal team members
So the truth is, going through menopause can feel quite isolating. You might not want to share how you're feeling or draw attention to some of the less-than-glamorous symptoms. But if you don’t let people know what you’re going through, they can’t help you.
And we, as teammates have a responsibility to be informed and understand the realities of menopause for our colleagues. We need to be supportive and accommodating to the people we care about.
That’s why Razor has created a pretty awesome menopause policy, so we can support the needs of our team.
The Razor menopause policy
Our menopause policy exists to support our colleagues and to raise awareness. There are people on the team who never have to worry about menopause for themselves, so this is an opportunity for us to educate and inform.
We want to break the stigma and taboo around this issue. Menopause is not a dirty word! We’re creating an environment where our team can feel confident discussing menopausal issues and ask for support when they need it.
In the policy, we offer guidance and outline the roles and responsibilities of specific team members. For example, our Head of People Operations is responsible for promoting awareness-raising activities including training and education for colleagues and managers.
This helps people know who to approach when they need assistance, and will hopefully make this less daunting.
With this policy, we want to dispel the myth that when people with uteruses hit menopause, the best of life is over because this couldn’t be further from the truth. I once heard it referred to as a second spring which I absolutely love! And as Davina says:
‘It’s that I don’t really care what people think, which is very liberating. I’ve never met a more kind of rowdy bunch of irreverent people than menopausal women. When we’re left to our own devices, we are very bloody funny.’ Davina McCall
OK, so now onto the tech!
FemTech products to help with menopause
At Razor, we know that good tech can not only enhance your business but also your life! So, I want to share some incredible FemTech products that are designed to help support you through menopause - pretty cool huh?
Menopod Menopod is designed for instant hot flash relief, from the palm of your hand. It’s like an ice pack at the push of a button, without all the messy melting! It’s USB charged and looks a little like an apple mouse, so won’t look out of place as part of your desk setup.
Menopause View Menopause view is an app designed to help ease the transition of menopause. You can use it to track your symptoms, and schedule alerts for medications and supplements (handy with brain fog 😅), you can even journal in the app and email these entries to people directly from the app.
Grace Grace is a (surprisingly stylish) bracelet designed to help you get through hot flushes. It has automatic tracking and the cooling is triggered by an onset of flush. It can be worn 24 hours a day so it’s perfect for those nighttime hot flushes too. Nice!
Grace is currently in development and not available to purchase yet, but it is definitely one to watch.
If you take one thing away from this article I want it to be, that menopause, while challenging, doesn’t need to be a bad thing. It can be a rebirth and the start of a new era. And we can use tech to help make the transition a bit more seamless!
Unfortunately, a lot more money goes into research and development for erectile dysfunction than reproductive health. We need to be doing more to help people with uteruses live more comfortable lives.
The good news is the FemTech market is seeing massive growth and starting to drive incredible innovation - and we love to see it!
If you have a cool FemTech idea and need help bringing the tech to life, please get in touch. We’d love to help you make it a reality.