medically reviewed by Patricia Shelton, MD
Perimenopause in the Workplace
Perimenopause can affect all aspects of your life, including your work life. Many women find that their self-esteem and confidence takes a major hit during this period. In fact, a recent study revealed that about a third of all women reported moderate to severe difficulties coping at work due to menopausal symptoms. Nearly 11% report missing work in the last 12 months due to symptoms like hot flashes and sleep disturbances.
Although peri certainly does present challenges, there are ways to help make your work life more comfortable during perimenopause.
1. Control your environment.
During peri, hot flashes are extremely common, affecting more than 80% of women. They can strike unpredictably, and often create a major distraction. If it’s possible, try to keep a fan near your workspace. This way, you can turn it on whenever you start to feel overheated. Many women find that they’re more comfortable sitting by a window, so they can open it for a cooling breeze when necessary.
Make sure you keep plenty of water around as well – a cool drink can make a huge difference during a hot flash. It’s ideal if you can easily access a water cooler, so you can have as much cold water as you need. If this isn’t possible, try keeping a large thermos filled with ice water at your desk.
If you’re able to cool down the office environment a little, this may also be helpful. It’s a good idea to discuss this with your colleagues first, if you share an office.
2. Change your work clothing.
The type of clothing you’re wearing at work can also make a big difference. If you sweat during a hot flash, then you might find your clothing is wet afterwards, which can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Switching to a type of clothing that wicks sweat away from your skin and dries quickly can help to avoid this situation. Menopause clothing like Become Clothing can also help to keep your body cool, which can be a huge help for those who experience hot flashes.
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3. Make sure you’re sleeping well.
Brain fog is also very common during peri, with around half of all women reporting this symptom. It’s difficult to feel confident in your work performance when your brain feels slowed down. One thing that may help is to pay close attention to your sleep. Taking actions to improve your sleep at night will help your brain to function better during the day, which may help with the brain fog and help you to feel more confident during your work day.
4. Try to create a quiet space.
Some women tend to experience anxiety during perimenopause. Having a quiet space where you can go to calm down for a few minutes can make a huge difference. Your office may have a designated break room where you can go when you need to. If not, see if you can find or create a quiet sanctuary somewhere in the office. Chances are that you’re not the only one who would benefit from this. If it’s tough to find an entirely separate space, maybe it’s possible to create a section in the break room that’s designed as quiet, conversation-free space, so anyone who needs a break is able to get it.
5. Remember your accomplishments.
Many women find their self-esteem taking a huge hit during perimenopause. When your inner critic starts to get louder, try to counter it by remembering how much you’ve accomplished over the course of your work life. By the time you hit perimenopause, you’ve likely working for decades. Take some time to remember your successes, and remind yourself that you’re still capable and skilled.
6. Don’t be afraid to talk about it!
Perimenopause is a natural part of life, and there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. If there are ways to help adjust your work environment to make you more comfortable, don’t be afraid to talk with your supervisor or colleagues about these changes. For example, you might need a space to change clothes in after a hot flash or a bout of unpredictable peri bleeding, or you might want to switch to a desk by a window so you can take advantage of the breeze. Bring these things up, and emphasize that you’ll be better able to do your job if they’re addressed. Remember that every woman goes through perimenopause – if you talk about it openly, you’re helping to make the office environment better for all women.
7. Consider your options.
If you’re really struggling, you may want to consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This can make a huge difference in relieving symptoms, and it’s considered to be safe for most women. If your perimenopausal symptoms are really interfering with your ability to function in your daily life (including at work), you might want to consider talking about HRT with your doctor, or seeking out an online service that can connect you with HRT. While this solution isn’t right for everyone and it isn’t a “magic bullet” that will completely get rid of your peri symptoms, it can make a huge difference in the quality of life.
8. Keep things in perspective.
When things get really tough, remind yourself that perimenopause is just a phase. The symptoms generally fade over time, and you’ll settle into a new postmenopausal normal. Even if symptoms like hot flashes are making your work life very uncomfortable, you won’t have to deal with them forever. Peri will pass – and many women find that their postmenopausal years are the best ones of their lives.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. perry may earn through affiliate links.