Although about half of the workforce will inevitably experience
the effects of menopause and perimenopause at some point in their lives, the topic has remained largely absent from national debates on equity, inclusivity and workplace health care.
According to the Harvard Business Review, menopause typically occurs when people with ovaries are between the ages of 45 and 55, around the time in their careers when they are most likely to rise to a higher management position. But despite affecting so much of the American workforce at such a critical time in their careers, frank and unnecessary discussions about menopause are still taboo in the workplace; and when these discussions take place, they carry the inherent risk of exacerbating existing sexist and agonistic stereotypes about women in the workplace.
In honor of National Women’s Health Week, NationSwell’s Gender Equity Group convened a group of women for a panel discussion on what needs to be done to ensure that the physical and mental issues of menopause and perimenopause are adequately addressed in the workplace.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the event:
Digital technologies are a promising tool to close gaps in care
In the past two years alone, new technologies — including AI, machine learning, wearables, and telehealth resources — have become attractive options for making healthcare more accessible to more people. These new technologies hold particular promise for their ability to give women going through menopause a very unique and personalized view of their health, which many believe is lacking in their relationships with their primary care physicians.
The case for increased support for professional women going through menopause must be made from an economic perspective.
Research supports the idea that when women are hit hard by menopause, they experience increased rates of absenteeism and are hit harder by productivity. By requiring their workplaces to offer benefit parity and reimbursement models that provide affordable access, women will have to view the possibility of not getting these things as an economic problem – one that will affect business bottom lines. it leads women to abandon the labor force in droves.
Women and their allies will necessarily have to advocate for increased support at the federal level.
The UK and other countries provide positive models of the kinds of public-private partnerships needed to ensure women going through menopause get the support they need. While lobbying for benefit parity and compassionate office policies is crucial, these lobbying efforts will also need to extend to the federal government if women can hope for far-reaching policy changes to the health care model. current health.
Critical education gaps exist for both healthcare providers and women going through menopause
A lack of resources and training for decades during residency programs has meant that healthcare providers are sometimes ill-equipped to care for women with menopausal symptoms, creating a frustrating lack of education and sensitization that affects patients. Just as technology holds promise for increasing accessibility to health care, it also holds the potential to create new pathways for women to access compassionate and knowledgeable professionals who specialize in treating menopausal symptoms.
Treatment options outside of hormone therapy should be part of the conversation.
There are a multitude of treatment options that can be used to treat the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause, and not all of them are drug-based. Although hormone therapy is one of the most commonly recommended treatment options, not all women are eligible, increasing the importance of science-based non-medical alternatives, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, healthy lifestyle changes, hypnosis, etc.
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