When she was 40 years old, Englishwoman Claire Boomer was surprised to have several symptoms after a hysterectomy, surgery to remove the uterus.
“I had mental confusion, difficulty retaining information. I was very tired, in pain. I lost my sexual desire. When we don’t know things, we think: what is happening to me? Why am I losing self-confidence, having anxiety?” Sheet.
At the time, she was mayor of Cirencester, England, and felt an impact on her work.
“I was afraid of speaking in public and losing my train of thought, being embarrassed,” he said.
The cause was early menopause, but she only discovered it after watching a television program on the subject. She sought help, started taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and improved. She decided to use the position she held to help other women. She created a menopause policy at city hall and now advises companies and organizations that want to do the same.
“It could be flexible working hours — not too much, because it wouldn’t be positive; better ventilation in the rooms, openness to talk. Women have to be able to speak openly if they are suffering, have had insomnia, need to go to a doctor’s appointment.”
With Claire’s help, the Royal Agricultural University, with 60% of its 250 staff female, created a similar policy. Some women have already sought support.
“It is available to everyone, from the cleaning team to teachers and researchers,” he told Sheet Sarah Lower, HR director at the university whose patron is King Charles III.
“We want them to know that they can speak up, that we will take them seriously and support them; be inclusive and make sure they are treated fairly,” he said.
“It could be something like placing your desk near the window, controlling the temperature in your room, adjusting your work hours and location.”
For the director, it is essential to include men and young people in the debate.
“Education is important so people know the impact of menopause. Talking to our male employees has been great. They’ve been really supportive.”
The discussion reached the British parliament. A report published last year by MPs on the Women and Equalities Committee revealed that three in five menopausal women aged 45 to 55 are negatively affected at work, and almost nine hundred thousand in the UK have quit their jobs because of symptoms. It also states that the law does not protect those who suffer discrimination, there is a lack of awareness among employers, and it points to flaws in the public health system (NHS), such as a shortage of specialists and medication. The government promises to follow part of the recommendations.
NHS guidelines list possible symptoms during menopause, when menstruation stops permanently: hot flashes, vaginal dryness, insomnia, mood changes, memory and concentration problems, pain, among others, and points to hormone replacement as the main treatment.
But Louise Newson, a doctor for 30 years, 25 of them in the NHS, and creator of a women’s help center, remembers that only 14% of British women at this stage of life receive HRT through public health. For her, there is a lot of misinformation.
“Every woman who wants to receive hormone replacement therapy should have this right. We know that there are more benefits than risks, and we should look at the risks of not taking and other medications prescribed for menopausal symptoms such as antidepressants, painkillers, sleeping pills, statins for lower cholesterol linked to hormonal changes,” he told Folha.
This month, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) — responsible for recommendations in the area — released a draft of new guidance on menopause suggesting that cognitive behavioral therapy be offered as a “complement or alternative to hormone replacement.” The doctor criticized the document.
“It’s very biased against hormone replacement therapy, it’s frustrating. The word ‘risks’ is mentioned 293 times, ‘breast cancer’ 150 times and ‘benefit’ 39 times,” he said.
“It’s already difficult for women to be heard, to receive correct treatment. To have a national organization suggesting this is harsh.”
In an article for the British newspaper The Times, she called global support for menopausal women “completely inadequate,” and NICE’s recommendations “a step backwards.”
“We know that the risk of breast cancer (from hormone replacement therapy) is not statistically significant. Yet they talk about it.”
“Science is clear about the role of hormones in the body. I don’t understand the advantages of an agenda that argues that hormones are dangerous, when they are natural substances in our body. They try to create controversy when the answer is simple and lies in medicine.”
When Claire was able to get hormone replacement therapy on the NHS as a result of her hysterectomy, she considered it lucky.
“It depends on the doctor. The NHS is wonderful, however some haven’t learned much about menopause. If a woman goes to the doctor at 35 thinking she is in perimenopause (the transition phase to menopause), there is a chance she will be sent away and they will say for her to come back after 40.”
As a consultant, she disagrees with those who think that exposing the issue discourages the hiring of women.
“I’ve had women tell me that I shouldn’t say I was going through menopause, and that’s horrible. The world has changed so much in recent years and women are in leadership roles. We should embrace menopause policies. A company can have one man in one position, but also a woman who just needs a slightly more flexible schedule, but will work the same number of hours. I think it’s positive that we maintain the dialogue,” he said.
“I want women of future generations to continue in leadership positions and have self-confidence. My goal is to help implement guidelines that are not just a piece of paper, but in practice, really help, so that companies retain employees, women feel valued, keep working and don’t give up on your careers.”
As part of the Todas initiative, the Sheet gifts women with two months of free digital subscription