Women make up 46.6 percent of the UK workforce. On average, women reach the pinnacle of their careers and the pay bracket after the age of 40 – which is only five years before some women begin to experience menopause symptoms.
Women of menopause age (45-55) are the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace. Their contribution to the economy in terms of knowledge and experience is invaluable, and yet workplaces are still not equipped with the right know-how nor do most have practices or policies in place to support them.
Now more than ever before, women are giving candid accounts of their experiences with the menopause and how it has affected their career or working life. There is a growing movement amongst women experiencing menopause – they want to let other women know they are not alone.
To coincide with World Menopause Day on October 18, we’re sharing a story from inspiring entrepreneur, NHS worker, and client of The Women’s Organisation, Jane Hobin – whose experience with early menopause meant stepping back from a career she once loved and forging a new path.
Career on hold
At the age of only 32, following a problematic pregnancy and the difficult birth of her daughter, Jane developed a severe form of premenstrual syndrome called pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
Jane underwent two years of painstaking treatment to try and manage her symptoms, which resulted in chemical menopause, and soon after she underwent a full abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy.
Jane believes the pandemic and pressures on the UK health service at the time left her without adequate aftercare. She was given no HRT and no real follow-up help or support.
The experience left her with both physical and mental health issues, and on some days unable to get out of bed. “Needless to say, this placed a huge pause on my career” she said.
Loss of identity
At the time, Jane’s career was going from strength to strength. She had worked in the NHS for 10 years and had climbed the ladder in a number of roles. Jane was even nominated for a Shine Bright Award in recognition of work she had done to tackle perceived failings in the service.
She recalls when she was asked to present those changes to different teams across the trust to enable a rollout, she was unable to do so because of worsening menopause symptoms. “I still regret that to this day,” said Jane.
Jane’s menopause symptoms quite quickly became more and more debilitating, and Jane had to reassess her work-life balance. She made the difficult decision to step down a salary band and reduce her travel by finding a role closer to her home.
Jane said: “I’d worked so hard to achieve my nursing qualifications and felt like my identity and purpose had been stolen. I didn’t recognise myself anymore.”
After an emotionally tiring and tumultuous period, Jane decided to take charge by stepping back from her role with the NHS to focus on improving her emotional health and wellbeing. “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” she said.
During her time out, Jane took solace in her love of cooking and feeding others – something she says she picked up from her nana.
Jane’s homemade pate, jams, curds, soups, and pasta sauces were always a big success with friends and family, and she began taking requests for new flavours and varieties. Before long, Jane had started a small business.
“What felt like overnight, my mental health improved. Building Jane’s Jams has been therapeutic as it’s something I love doing.
“It still blows me away that people actually put the food I produce on their plates and enjoy it!”
Flying the flag
Jane has returned to the NHS and has secured a new role within a new Psychological Services. She is also liaising with her current employer, with the view of helping other women experiencing Menopause, and plans to return to University to complete a PH Cert in Psychological therapies in the near future.
Jane is just one of hundreds of thousands of women in the UK that will right now be trying to manage menopause symptoms whilst holding down a career or working life.
High-profile women, like Davina McCall, join Jane in flying the flag for menopausal women and putting menopause firmly on the agenda.
Last year, Davina starred in a Channel 4 documentary – Sex, Myths and the Menopause – in which she describes in detail her own experience with menopause and perimenopause.
The three-part docuseries also busts myths around the transition to menopause and aims to tackle the embarrassment so many women endure in talking openly about menopause and how it has affected them.
This year, Davina has co-written a book on the menopause with Dr Naomi Potter – Menopausing – which she describes as being “more than a book, it is a movement”.
The book not only addresses the effects of menopause but explores the many ways women can claim back their confidence and their identity after what she describes as the “crippling” menopause crisis.
The Women’s Organisation is the largest developer and deliverer of training and support targeting women in the UK.
We operate a programme of courses and events designed to empower and enable women of every age and from all walks of life – including sessions on building your confidence and being more resilient.
We can also help women to train or retrain, learn new skills, build their CV, explore a business idea, build a business plan and more. For more information, contact our team today on 0151 707 8111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): A very severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Chemical Menopause: Chemical menopause is a term used to describe a temporary (and reversible) menopausal state created with the use medications.
Abdominal Hysterectomy: A surgical procedure that removes your uterus through an incision in your lower abdomen.
Bilateral Oophorectomy: A procedure removing both ovaries.
HRT: Hormone replacement therapy is medication that contains female hormones to relive symptoms of menopause.