By Steve Bond, Pharmacist
Women make up 50% of the world’s population today (technically it’s 49.75% but close enough). This means that nearly 4 billion people on this earth are likely to experience the change known as menopause. That’s an astounding number of individuals and makes me believe that menopause is worth talking about. Menopause, by definition, is defined as the period when menstruation ends or 12 months after the last period. It is preceded by a period known as perimenopause which can last four to 10 years. Common symptoms include hot flashes, chills, irregular periods (during perimenopause), vaginal dryness, sweats, insomnia, mood changes, weight gain, and dry or thinning hair. Women can also experience joint pain, memory loss or difficulty concentrating.
Recently, there has been a push to encourage women to talk about and deal with symptoms that are affecting them. The internet has a strong community that helps to bring the topic from the shadows. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) has produced guidelines to help manage symptoms which are made available to doctors, nurse practitioners and the general public. Other groups including the Canadian Menopause Society, North American Menopause Society (NAMS) have the mandate to educate and raise awareness. Research is being conducted and published to ensure that treatments such as Hormone replacement therapy is utilized in the best possible manner.
Women enter menopause between 45 and 55. This means that nearly two billion women could be experiencing symptoms and require support. Many workplaces are aware of this and there is a push to make environments more menopause friendly. A study published by the Menopause Foundation of Canada estimated that menopause symptoms costs Canadians close to $3.5 billion per year due to lower productivity and missed work. Creating an environment that lifts outdated taboos, raises awareness and provides benefits for therapy such as hormone replacement and mental health support can improve the wellbeing of women as they make this transition. A flexible work environment, when possible, will also go a long way to improving the morale of the entire team.
Do not be afraid to speak openly about perimenopause and menopause. Speak to your doctor or nurse practitioner about treatments and lifestyle choices to help symptoms. Approach your employer to create a menopause friendly environment. And most importantly, take care of yourselves and each other.