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Businesswoman ANYA LORIMER calls for greater understanding and honesty about the change of life As a 25+ year veteran and long-term champion of business, the change is coming – and I’m not going quietly.

I’m taking on the role of shining a light on menopause in the professional workplace. It’s not secret women’s business anymore. What’s required is a shared understanding because men need to be informed to better support their mothers, wives, executive teams and employees.

Having empathy and understanding will be rewarded with stability, staff retention, experience and happiness.

The change will quietly come along as many of us reach the peak of our careers. If you look around at women in senior positions, executive roles and leaders of industry, there’s a good chance they will be suffering in silence.

Women go through three major hormonal changes in their lives. As teenagers – often unpredictable, irrational, emotional bitches. And again during and post-pregnancy – fluctuating hormones, raging emotions and brain fog (or placenta brain). And, finally, with menopause – the final notch in the cycle of hormones.

The interesting thing is that some of the symptoms experienced previously may reappear with vengeance. Except this time we have 10 times the responsibility and some have bitchy teenage daughters to contend with as well.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or lawyer, so I’m not in a position to give medical or legal advice. What I share are notes from extensive reading and research as I try to understand what may or may not be coming my way. I’ve also gained some valuable tips from friends a little older and some younger at gatherings of six women and six wines.

There are insightful resources online and I always try to dig into Australian references because they match up to our health system. Some I found particularly useful are: Jeanhailes.; www.menopausecentre.; and My professional advice from a marketing perspective is to avoid sites that sell stuff or show any evidence of boosting products, clinics, services or supplements. There are many sites online that offer advice about menopause-related products. Some people have medical backgrounds, others have faith-based or “natural” remedies, so be aware about anything being pushed onto you that increases profits, wonder supplements, fad-based subscription fitness programs or social media followings.

A book I do recommend is Kaz Cooke It’s the Menopause because it’s funny, positive and enlightening. Up the Duff got us through pregnancy and being an Australian author – and former Territorian – she has intelligent, quick humour in her writing and she interviews thousands of women in her research. It’s also a good one to buy a friend or leave lying around for a partner to pick up.

An executive summary on my findings is that symptoms can affect women generally in the 45-55 age bracket, but mostly just after 50. This can be accelerated by cancer treatments and some surgical procedures. Women whose periods stop completely and permanently before age 40 are said to have premature menopause.

Menopause is divided into three basic stages of change: perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause.

During this time, the ovaries begin a degeneration of cells, which causes a decline in the production of the hormones that stimulate the production of eggs and the menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone. The symptoms caused from this may go on for 5-10 years.

Perimenopausal is the confusing lead-up when you don’t know what your body is telling you. There are also things such as thinning hair that are age-related but not necessarily menopause-related.

Quoting from Jean Hailes, an Australian endocrinologist and respected expert on the subject: About 20 percent of women have no symptoms at all, while 60 percent have mild to moderate symptoms. The remaining 20 percent have severe symptoms, which interfere with their daily lives.

Menopausal symptoms are generally easily managed and can be influenced by different things – for example, your stage of life and general health and wellbeing.

Many symptoms start during perimenopause and can continue into postmenopause. Australian studies show that some women experience symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats well into their sixties.

Physical symptoms

Symptoms may include:

• irregular periods

• hot flushes

• night sweats

• sleep problems

• sore breasts

• itchy, crawly or dry skin

• exhaustion and fatigue

• dry vagina

• loss of sex drive (libido)

• headaches or migraines

• more pronounced premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

• aches and pains

• bloating

• urinary problems

• weight gain from slower metabolism

Emotional symptoms

Symptoms may include:

• feeling irritable or frustrated

• feeling anxious

• difficulty concentrating

• forgetfulness

• lowered mood

• mood swings

• feeling you can’t cope as well as you used to.

Granny, mom and daughterGranny, mom and daughter

Jean has online factsheets and a checklist of symptoms. As a HR manager or director, you may be facing people who do not know what is causing physical and emotional changes in the workplace. I suggest referring people to her website at as a first point and encourage them to do the checklist and then take it to a GP.

Menopause is declared officially over when you haven’t had a period for 12 months. This could take years to achieve and for some the anniversary may pass without fanfare.

I used to think we have a worklife and a personal life, but we actually only have one life. I then became interested to know if there were any studies linked to relationship breakdowns due to menopause. In particular, perimenopause and menopause can lead to a low libido and loss of intimacy and sexual intercourse, which can make couples feel distant from each other.

Research from the UK released in 2022 to coincide with World Menopause Day cements what has been long assumed, but never proven, that the menopause has a clear and negative impact on divorce, separation and relationships.

The survey, conducted by The Family Law Menopause Project and Newson Health Research and Education, shows that seven in 10 women (73 percent) who responded blame menopause for the breakdown of their marriage. A further 67 percent of the 1000 women taking part worryingly claimed it increased domestic abuse and arguments.

Sadly, only a fifth of those women had sought support to talk about perimenopause/menopause because they didn’t, at the time, think it was a contributing factor to the breakdown of the relationship.

Women’s hormone deficiency, physical and emotional symptoms and the correlation between divorce rates is still not fully understood or acknowledged, but more research is being done. Stability and understanding are critical, so talk to your partner, husband or GP, and get counselling if you need it.

Tips to help embrace the change

To combat lack of sleep and aching joints try magnesium powder before bed (powder works quicker than tablets because it’s easier to digest). Thank you, Lynne, for the tip – it truly changed my life.

Be kind to yourself and step back

If you experience mood swings check in with your GP who can test your hormone levels because patches and other medical options are available.

Increase your walking fitness. Aim for 5000 steps per day and build up to 10,000. If you are competitive then monitoring your steps with a Fitbit, app or Apple Watch is a great way to challenge yourself.

Be aware of stress, feeling overwhelmed and t he possibility of brain fog. There is a notes function on your phone or wheel out the white board – whatever works.

Find time for yoga, meditation, massage, pilates, reading books, taking up hobbies – pick one and do it.

Start talking about it. Phone your mum, discuss it with your partner, call your sisters and BFF.

I have no doubt there will be people who may see the opportunity to take advantage of business and employers and use menopause as an excuse to milk the system. “Don’t bullshit a bullshitter” is a mantra I often use, which is why you need to stay ahead of the curve.

Opportunistic types of people will have a pattern of doing it in the past, so fact check references, do your due diligence and reward those with a good work ethic. Taking advantage of sick leave like it’s an entitlement and an empathic boss at any stage of their career is doing a disservice to the entire organisation. I have no time for it.

If managed properly, becoming aware of possible symptoms with the change can be a positive show of leadership, strength and character. All I hope to achieve is a shared understanding because being informed is all that is required.

And finally, I would like to see my mother’s generation to be the last one that felt they couldn’t speak up.

Editorial disclaimer: Territory Q does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) that is provided in the publication or on the website or incorporated into it by reference. Territory Q provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner or registered GP.