Written evidence submitted by Ms Louise Collins [MEW0017]

 

My name is Louise Collins.  I am 55 years old and about three years ago I started to experience significant brain fog, high level panic when being driven by others and when driving, regular sleep disturbance (nightly average of 5-6 hours sleep), extreme fatigue, and very low mood, lack of motivation and itchy skin, joint pain, brittle nails, hair loss, tinnitus, irregular and unpredictable menstruation and low level urinary leaking. 

I work in Community Liaison in a Higher Education Institution.  Part of my role involves responding to complaints from members of the public about student behaviour off campus. I am usually a significantly resilient person and was capable of dealing with sometimes aggressive members of the public without being upset. 

My mother had an early menopause and suffered from a lot of debilitating symptoms. I saw this and so was keen to be prepared and informed.  I consider myself fortunate to have had the internet to enable me to do online research but also to be perimenopausal at a time that wide campaigning was getting underway by Dr Louise Newson  https://www.menopausedoctor.co.uk

I am an open person and I found female colleagues were confiding in me and responded when I mentioned symptoms in the office. However, these were mainly hurried and hushed conversations between two women which stopped when a male or younger colleague arrived. I was very surprised that the taboo of talking about the menopause was still so strong. My best friend found it very hard to be open about her symptoms even with me.

My line manager is male and older and I feel unable to discuss my symptoms or their impact on my work with him even though I get on well with him.

I wrote to the HR Equality and Diversity Manager at work in 2019 to encourage them to follow the example set by policing and put a Menopause Policy in place.  I backed this up with evidence on the economic impact of women leaving the workplace.  They proposed a discussion forum.  I attended a couple of these and I feel that they have been hugely beneficial in breaking down the taboo for a lot of female colleagues and for providing reliable sources of medical advice for colleagues.  I was surprised at the level of lack of knowledge amongst my female colleagues.  Most of whom had no idea about the impacts of hormone deficiency on perimenopausal and menopausal women.  However, I was still very keen to see a policy put in place.  As of August 2021, despite repeated requests, there is still no policy in place.

needed at work, and awareness training for line managers.

adjustments to the working environments such as having fans available and relaxing uniform requirements for employees affected by hot flushes. It also calls for flexible working and most importantly, creating opportunities to facilitate discussion about symptoms that are impacting on an employee’s ability to work.

Development published a guide in 2019 for employers and line managers (www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/culture/well- being/menopause).

 

 

August 2021