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Menopause is about “having a moment.” What’s next for workplaces and healthcare – National |


As menopause becomes more common this year, advocates in Canada hope this change can lead to advances in health care and workplaces to better support women through what can be a very difficult stage. of their life.

In an aging population, more women in their 40s and 50s are speaking openly about their own experiences of menopause on social media and elsewhere.

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“Menopause is definitely a moment, but I think it’s actually becoming a movement,” said Janet Ko, president and co-founder of the Menopause Foundation of Canada (MFC).

“I think it’s become more common because Gen X women are leading the conversation and demanding a different experience than their mothers and grandmothers,” she told Global News in an interview.

Click to play the video: “Destigmatizing menopause”

Destigmatizing menopause

Despite awareness efforts, women across the country continue to face menopause-related stigma and there is a lack of support in workplaces, experts say.

And with that comes a financial burden.

A report released in October by the Canadian Menopause Foundation found that unmanaged menopause symptoms cost the Canadian economy about $3.5 billion each year.

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The report states that employers suffer a financial loss of $237 million per year in lost productivity and that women lose $3.3 billion in income due to reduced work hours, lower wages or complete departure from the labor market.

Support for menopause at work

In Canada, there are more than 10 million women over the age of 40, so about a quarter of the population is either postmenopausal or perimenopausal.

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Most women reach menopause – marked by the absence of periods for a year – between the ages of 45 and 55.

Perimenopause is the transition period, lasting six to eight years, leading to menopause, during which a woman’s menstrual cycles may become irregular as hormone levels fluctuate.

These are the years when working women have the most income and can be hampered by the physical and mental health problems associated with menopause, said Helena Pagano, director of human resources and culture at Sun Life.

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Some of the common symptoms of menopause include irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, mood swings, and joint pain.

Postmenopausal women may also lack energy, have trouble sleeping, suffer from depression, and have problems with bladder control.

“It impacts them in the workplace at a time when women should… optimize their careers, maximize their earning potential, be at their best, give their best at the peak of their careers,” Pagano said in an interview with Global News.

Click to play video: “Menopause impacts women's careers, says recent report”

Menopause impacts women’s careers, says recent report

Sun Life, in partnership with MFC, is advocating for a more inclusive workplace for menopausal employees.

As part of this effort, they created a guide for employers that launched in October and highlights a five-step plan for providing menopause support at work.

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To reduce stigma, the manual encourages open dialogue about menopause with informal roundtable discussions and including men in these conversations.

The creation of policies specific to menopause or the integration of menopause into existing policies are also part of this action plan.

If necessary, employees should be provided with flexible work hours, remote work and changes to work schedules, the guidelines state.

To make employees more comfortable, ventilation should be improved, toilets with sufficiently large trash cans, and easy access to cold drinking water. If a uniform is required, the emphasis should be on breathable natural fibers with layering options.

Employers should also ensure adequate mental health coverage to support menopausal workers. They are also encouraged to lobby their virtual care providers to expand their menopause-related expertise.

Janet Ko, president and co-founder of the Canadian Menopause Foundation.

Photo credit: Kathryn Hollinrake

Ko said she would like to see workplaces in Canada adopt these changes which could make a “big difference” for a “vital cohort of female workers” in the country.

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“We need workplaces to break the stigma, close the knowledge gap, download our guide and take action to ensure they have created a menopause-inclusive workplace for women in their prime. age,” she said.

Pagano said there is a growing appetite for open and safe conversations on the topic in the workplace.

She hopes more Canadian employers will join us and help close the country’s gender health gap.

Click to play video: “Menopause Inclusive Workspaces”

Inclusive workspaces for menopause

Is Canada doing better in treating menopause?

In Canada, there are several treatment options for menopausal symptoms, including hormone therapy, over-the-counter medications, and prescription medications.

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Hormone therapy (HT), which can be administered in pill form or transdermally via a patch or gel, is approved by Health Canada and administered by prescription.

Experts say it is more effective than non-hormonal options for treating menopausal symptoms.

If there are no contraindications to starting hormonal therapy for menopause, it should be the first-line treatment for vasomotor symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, according to an article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in May.

Dr. Michelle Jacobson, a menopause specialist at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, said it’s great to have a variety of drug options that have come to the Canadian market in recent years.

However, she said the country still struggled to access good non-hormonal options and very few menopause specialists, adding that fears remained over the use of hormonal drugs, even though they have been proven safe and effective.

“Menopausal hormone therapy can be initiated safely in women without contraindications aged less than 60 years or less than 10 years after menopause,” according to the guidelines of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada.

Click to play video: “Menopausal Hormone Therapy Risk Concerns”

Risks of menopausal hormone therapy

Ko said more health professionals need to be aware of the clinical practice guidelines used to treat menopause and be more comfortable in these conversations with patients.

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A report released last year by the Canadian Menopause Foundation found that of the 41 percent of women surveyed between the ages of 40 and 60 who saw a doctor, 72 percent found it not helpful or only somewhat useful. Nearly 40 percent of women also feel their symptoms are undertreated, according to the report.

“Unfortunately, our health professionals receive almost no training on menopause and are therefore very ill-prepared to support women,” Ko said.

She also said provinces should cover all forms of menopausal hormone therapy and should support other new non-hormonal treatment options that are on the horizon.

Given the momentum of the past year and increasing pressure from women themselves, Ko and Jacobson are optimistic about progress in the fight against menopause.

“I’m confident that next year will bring a significant improvement in the way we frame menopause, the way we treat menopause,” Jacobson said.


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