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As female seafarers have increased in number and worked their way up the ranks, more mature women are working at sea. But there is a danger that maritime employers might lose the expertise of these experienced professionals, as recent research in the UK shows that a lack of support around the menopause is leading to as many as one in 10 women leaving their jobs. It doesn't have to be this way, though. Menopause mentor Torild Boe dispelled some myths at a recent Maritime UK workshop.
What happens at menopause?
Menopause is more than just the hot flushes that can present as a woman's menstrual cycle ceases and she can no longer get pregnant. It can result in mood and sleep disturbances, feelings of anxiety and palpitations, as well as thinning hair, night sweats and over 30 other symptoms which can be distressing and debilitating. Experiencing these symptoms onboard a ship away from home can be particularly challenging. But good treatment and symptom management can get women back to feeling like themselves and working at the top of their game.
What should employers be aware of?
Some 51% of the workforce will transition through the menopause for two to 15 years of their life, but discrimination against menopausal women is still widespread. The UK government is investigating the legislation around this, and the number of successful tribunals citing menopause is increasing. Maritime UK has an online Menopause Hub which offers support in setting up workplace menopause policies.
How can I handle my menopause?
If you are one of the 75% of women who experience menopause symptoms, be sure to discuss the options of hormone replacement therapy with your GP/family doctor. Here are some tips that can also help:
- Diary your day: track what you eat, what you drink, whether you exercise and when you go to sleep
- Practice breathwork: calming and cooling yogic breathing techniques can help with sleep and hot flushes as they calm the nervous system
- Keep healthy: reduce caffeine and alcohol intake, especially before important meetings
- Contact Nautilus! Your Union is here to help if you are experiencing workplace discrimination based on the menopause
- Sign up to the next Maritime UK menopause workshop