MENOPAUSE PORTRAITS AT WORK
'Menopause Portraits at Work' is a virtual exhibition that Over The Bloody Moon is running, from October through to February, to highlight different experiences of how menopause may impact people in the workplace. To bring to life real people's stories shared by our community, we commissioned two artists who have collaborated on creating a series of still life imagery designed to provoke empathy.
To launch the exhibition, we are running a virtual event via Zoom on:
Oct 22nd at 12:30-13:15 BST
Who is it aimed at?
This event is aimed at HR professionals, Wellbeing and Occupational Health managers, Inclusion and Diversity leads, and Employee Resource Group leads championing women's health / menopause.
What is it?
A 45 minute virtual Zoom event to learn about the real impact and diverse experiences of menopause in the workplace. We will be covering:
Why menopause is a critical Inclusion and Diversity topic
Meet the artists and deep dive into different aspects of menopause
Hear real workplace stories from women (natural, early and surgical menopause)
How you can support people impacted by menopause
Why would I want to attend?
Be better informed about menopause and its variances
Develop empathy for colleagues transitioning through menopause
Be equipped with ideas on how to implement menopause support
'MENOPAUSE PORTRAITS AT WORK'
See below a series of still life portraits commissioned from multidisciplinary creatives, Pansy Aung and Consuelo Zaccaron and join us on the day to hear them talk about some of the common tensions and issues we hear from our community. Their stunning photography seeks to make people stop, smile, and engage in this often, stigmatised subject. Capturing unexpected pairings of workplace images to represent the visible and invisible symptoms of menopause.
Hot flushes are commonly associated with menopause and affect 70% women, even those on Hormone Replacement Therapy.
Hot flushes last on average four minutes and people describe them as an intense burning heat that rises sometimes from the chest, up the neck and face to the crown of the head whilst others experience the heat radiating up from their feet or arms.
This causes red blotches to appear on the face and neck and heat can be extreme. This can be particularly difficult for those who wear uniform, in environments with heat or cold, and for those who are in public facing roles or in meetings.
As hot flushes create red blotches on the neck and face, this can make people feel stressed and embarrassed. Anxiety is also a trigger for hot flushes and so those impacted by hot flushes more frequently may find themselves in a viscous cycle.
Fluctuations in oestrogen that are particularly pronounced during perimenopause (the stage ahead of menopause) may impact on cognitive function, making it harder for people to organise their thoughts.
The brain metabolism begins to slow, and tasks can take longer to complete, as well as people finding it harder to focus on conversations. As the mind is an important asset in the workplace, this can derail those impacted by brain fog and is sadly a cause for people to leave their job, often not disclosing the real reason why.
As cognitive function is affected by fluctuating hormones, this usually settled down postmenopause where women can feel back in their stride. Reducing workload, delegating challenging work tasks temporarily and enlisting the support from others when needed are ways to support those impacted by brain fog.
Memory lapses affect over 40% of people transitioning through menopause with some finding their vocabulary reduced, unable to remember the names of people, projects and nouns.
Some describe themselves as becoming scatty and forgetful to such a degree they worry they have early onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
This is due to declining oestrogen and rising cortisol, our stress hormone. There are various strategies that can help. For example, to avoid losing objects, anchoring (putting them always in the same place), alongside sticking RFID tags on items that are most misplaced. Scheduling in reminders for tasks on the mobile as well as sharing what’s going on to colleagues, rather than hiding it, helps others empathise and encourages them to support.
Ensuring a good supply of Vitamin B6 and B12 also boosts cognitive function.
Mood swings can be a result of declining progesterone or fluctuating oestrogen.
Women often describe feeling a spectrum of moods in a short space of time, making them feel ‘out of control’ or ‘going mad’. This can be exhausting for them, as well as impacting on others around them.
In the workplace, finding ways to regulate emotions can be helped by having regular breaks and time out to take a short walk in fresh air, practicing breathwork or mindfulness and strategic eating.
Avoiding sugar and processed foods and eating fibre helps keep blood sugar levels more stable. Prebiotics and prebiotics also help with gut health which is linked to improving one’s mood.
Irritability can be a result of declining progesterone, making 53% women feel fragile and teary (British Menopause Society ‘Women’s Health Meeting’, October 2020.
Some describe themselves as feeling less patient with colleagues, snappy or defensive “going from 1 to 100 in a matter of seconds.”
Paced breathing, listening to a Loving Kindness meditation, cognitive behavioural therapy, and restorative movement, such as restorative yoga are all evidence-based ways to boost mood and help regulate emotions.
You might wonder what libido has to do with the workplace. A decline in testosterone means that levels are half of what they were by the time a person reaches forty, compared to when they were twenty years of age.
Low testosterone may make people tired, supresses mood, makes it harder to fall asleep, and also impacts on sex drive. With little energy, women can describe themselves as ‘fading away’ or ‘feeling invisible’.
There are many hidden aspects of menopause that colleagues won’t notice that impact on a person’s confidence and behaviour. It’s important that this isn’t confused with poor performance.
Finding ways to help people restore their strength and mojo is important. As well as hormone replacement therapy which for most should be a first point of call, testosterone therapy can also restore people’s drive. It isn’t available on NHS but is ‘off license’ and from private menopause clinicians. A blood test will be required to check eligibility.
Join us October 22nd at 12:30–13:15 GMT to hear real stories from different people impacted by menopause in the workplace, meet the creatives behind “Menopause Portraits at Work”, and learn from Lesley Salem, founder of Over The Bloody Moon on why investing in menopause is so important.
Menopause education and advocacy is at the heart of Over The Bloody Moon.
There is still stigma, misinformation, and a lack of empathy that surrounds this time of life.
We work with artists, brands and organisations to share our message, celebrate the different shades of menopause, provoke thought and cultivate conversation.
If you'd like to find out more about how you can get involved, or sponsor our next campaign, please get in touch.