ISU Guidance for Members on approaching or experiencing the Menopause

What is the Menopause/Menopause transition?

What is often debilitating and stressful and will affect more than half the workforce?

At its simplest the Menopause is a hormonal change that occurs, usually between the ages of 45 and 55, in women or individuals with the XX genome for gender which marks the end of a woman’s reproductive cycle.

Whilst it primarily affects women in the age range of 45 to 55 it can occur naturally, or be medically induced at an earlier age and can also occur later in a woman’s life – approximately 1 in 100 women will experience the menopause transition before the age of 40.

Prior to the Menopause transition occurring women enter a phase known as the perimenopause – this is when their hormone levels begin the change and can occur as early as their twenties up to their 40’s. Symptoms of the Perimenopause are difficult to attribute as they vary widely, ranging from weight gain, mood swings, disturbed sleep, night sweats and hot flushes to dryness of the skin. Many of these symptoms mirror the common symptoms seen by women experiencing the menopause transition.

What are the common expressions/symptoms?

Common symptoms experienced by women undergoing the menopause transition are:

  • Mood disturbances
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Panic attacks
  • Reduced concentration
  • Hot flushes and night sweats
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Muscle and joint stiffness
  • General aches and pains
  • Urinary tract infections including cystitis
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Weight gain
  • Palpitations – heart rate accelerates and can be felt by the individual

There are a wide range of symptoms and it’s not an exhaustive list – some women may experience completely different symptoms from those listed above, others may experience only a few or all of them.

Any of these symptoms can have a considerable impact upon our members undertaking their jobs – especially when front line operational delivery roles require shift working and unsocial hours – all of which can exacerbate these symptoms. Members on the front line taking part in law enforcement activities both in country and at the border have to process a large amount of information at any one time – and reduced sleep or reduced concentration can have negative impacts upon their ability to carry out activities if no reasonable adjustments are made to minimise the impact.

These are long-term symptoms which a woman may experience for prolonged periods of time, in some cases for years. As such they have a considerable impact upon a woman’s life whilst experiencing the menopause transition and potentially a considerable impact upon their performance and attendance at work.