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Menopause: A Supportive Approach for Surgeons

Historically, menopause has been largely ignored in the workplace. But thanks to high-profile women like Davina McCall, Salma Hayek and Drew Barrymore, conversations in the public sphere around this transitionary time have become plentiful, and there is (finally) a growing awareness and empowerment to seek support, although this may take time to filter through to every place of work.

Menopause symptoms include hot flushes, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and disrupted sleep patterns - adding this smorgasbord of symptoms to a plate already over-filled with the stresses and pressures of being on a surgical team. Surgical work requires concentration, precision and focus, which are all areas that can be compromised by the onset of peri-menopausal and menopausal symptoms. The overall effect of these challenges, coupled with increased anxiety, can significantly affect performance and wellbeing, which leads to a unique set of obstacles to navigate. Recognising this intersection of menopausal symptoms with workplace demands is crucial for providing support for both physical and mental health.

We recognise that menopause and peri-menopause affects every woman differently, and that the challenges faced are not identical. We offer the Employee/Member Assistance Programme (EAP) as part of your membership. This service provides confidential support for members dealing with personal and professional problems related to menopause. Support includes access to counselling, which provides a pathway to structured therapy; qualified nurses who can offer support on a range of medical or health-related issues; and self-help tools, including CBT modules, fact sheets, and advice videos from qualified counsellors.

In addition to the EAP, CBS members can access Menopause Support, a not-for-profit community interest company and the home of the national #MakeMenopauseMatter campaign. Menopause Support has recently launched a new guidance booklet, ‘Understanding Menopause’. This resource, reviewed by expert clinicians, includes a symptom checker to help women understand potential menopause symptoms and highlights when to seek support. Other resources include a short film entitled ‘Cycle of Change: Understanding Menopause’, which empowers women by sharing real-life experiences from all stages of the menopause transition, advocating for change in how we discuss menopause.

Diane Danzebrink founder of Menopause Support states that “Those whose work is focused on caring for others, often put their own health and wellbeing at the bottom of the to do list. It is vital that everyone has the right information and support, at the right time, to allow them to look after themselves as they strive to care for others.”

By recognising and addressing the specific obstacles faced by menopausal members of the surgical team, the Confederation of British Surgery aims to empower women in the profession to seek independent support. Increased confidence can help reshape workplace discussions, and we will support this is in every way we can. Through the Employee/Member Assistance Programme and Menopause Support resources, we stand committed to your wellbeing as you navigate the challenges of menopause in the surgical environment.




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