Colleges launch menopause 'stigma-breaking' guidelines to support women

Over a third of employers believe they do not have measures in place to support those going through the menopause.

Scottish Colleges launch menopause ‘stigma-breaking’ guidelines to support women iStock

Higher education institutions across Scotland have launched a new policy aimed at supporting those experiencing the menopause after a new survey found a third of employers said they were “not equipped” to support women.

Colleges Scotland said they wanted to “break the stigma” around the menopause as all 26 facilities adopted the new guidelines to coincide with World Menopause Day.

Revised protocols mean managers will be open to having “sensitive and confidential discussions” about support plans and will make reasonable adjustments to working arrangements when necessary.

A survey by the UK government’s workplace Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) revealed 33% said they did not have measures in place to help those going through the menopause.

Most women experience the menopause between the ages of 45 and 55 but it can also happen earlier or later in life.

Symptoms can last four years or longer and can include hot flushes, anxiety, memory and concentration problems.

Almost eight out of 10 women experiencing marriage difficulties said the symptoms of the perimenopause or menopause put a strain on their family life and/or their children, according to the Family Law Menopause Project and Newson Health Research and Education.

The International Menopause Society (IMS) published a paper to raise awareness of brain fog in menopause and perimenopause.

It said symptoms include difficulty remembering words and numbers, disruptions in daily life, such as misplacing items like keys, trouble concentrating, difficulty switching between tasks and forgetting appointments and events.

Katrina Daly of College Employers Scotland said the new policy was designed to “create an enviornment where women feel comfortable enough to discuss their expeiences”.

She added: “All of us recognise that much more needs to be done to assist members of staff during what can be an incredibly difficult and challenging time.

“Going through the menopause is a totally different experience for every woman but the level of dignity and support offered should be consistently high. 

“By doing this we aim to create an environment in every college where women feel comfortable enough discuss the issues around their symptoms and confident that every effort will be made to support them.”

The Acas survey added that one in five did not know what support was available for those going through the menopause in their workplace.

Dr Nicole Jaff, co-author of the IMS paper, said: “Research studies find that a woman’s memory does change at menopause and ‘brain fog’ is common.

“While this can temporarily affect a woman’s quality of life, the good news is that symptoms are generally mild and resolve post-menopause.

“Women are often concerned that these memory issues are an early symptom of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, but these conditions are very rare in midlife.

“Women should be reassured that most memory problems before and during menopause will typically get better over time.”

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