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Alison Martin-Campbell, 56, is an Executive Assistant at a financial services organization and chairs her firm’s Menopause Community. After experiencing hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety, depression and cystitis, the last of these so badly she ended up in hospital, she started to share her research and tips for how to cope with menopause symptoms leading her to setting up a Menopause Community which supports employees and their families going through menopause and perimenopause.
One of Alison’s key passions is making people – men and women – feel comfortable talking about menopause. Her own experience made her feel very isolated and she doesn’t want that to be the norm, rather she feels menopause should be spoken as openly as any other stage in a man or woman’s life.
Alison also feels that it is really important that we create menopause-friendly workplaces, given menopause affects half the working population and for many, they are going to be working for up to a third of their life when they’re going through what can be incredibly debilitating symptoms of menopause. In light of this, Alison was part of a team who worked on establishing Menopause Guidelines for Staff and Managers at her organization.
Alison has appeared in The Financial Times, contributed to Still Hot: 42 Brilliantly Honest Menopause Stories, spoken at This Can Happen 2021: Menopause and mental health – learnings from the UK workforce, given dozens of presentations on menopause to colleagues and external clients, most recently on Menopause & Neurodiversity, and written an article for COO Magazine entitled Why Menopause Matters, Especially In The Workplace
Interview – Hormone University
Welcome Alison! Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.
1. Tell us your story and why you created a Menopause community in your workplace
My own journey began in 2012 when I started experiencing hot flushes but I didn’t know what they were at the time. They went away but came back again in 2013 and I also developed relentless cystitis which made my life an absolute misery. I was in constant pain and suffered acute anxiety with the symptoms. I had numerous GP and consultant appointments and at one point was briefly admitted to hospital to have a minor medical procedure to try and find out what was causing the cystitis but nothing helped. By this time I was aware of the peri-menopause and during one appointment, I asked the registrar (a very senior doctor) if I could possibly be peri-menopausal and he said at 47 I was too young! This sounds arrogant but I knew he was wrong and decided to give up with the medical appointments and try and work out myself what was wrong. I Googled my symptoms and came across a fantastic website called Menopause Matters.
After reading a number of articles and joining several forums, I realised I most likely had vaginal atrophy (thinning of the vaginal walls which gives cystitis-like symptoms) and went to my own GP who confirmed my suspicions. With some life-style changes and going on HRT, I am now able to manage my symptoms as there is no cure. However, before I went on HRT, I tried numerous over the counter supplements and also tried out different techniques to help with insomnia, anxiety etc and kept a note of the things I tried. One day a colleague saw me updating my ‘crib-sheet’ and asked me to share it with her. Before I knew it, I had shared with 20 colleagues and from there I set up my firm’s Menopause Community which I have been chairing and managing since 2017.
2. What are the key stats you can share about Menopause?
- It’s a societal issue: we need to support women and men in the workplace when it comes to menopause so we feel comfortable about talking about it
- The average age menopause begins is 51 and symptoms can go on for many years
- With the current state age of retirement at 67 in the UK, potentially women are experiencing menopausal symptoms for up to a third of their working lives
- We need to bring men into the menopause conversation
- We need to support women going through early menopause
- We need to support those in the neurodiverse community going through menopause
- We need to support those in the transgender community going through menopause
3. Can you provide an overview of the initiatives you have launched related to supporting employees experiencing menopause?
I give presentations on menopause to colleagues and external clients of my firm, I collate and publish newsletters, I have appeared in The Financial Times and have written an article called Why Menopause Matters In the Workplace. I also offer 1:1’s with colleagues about menopause.
4. How do you ensure that employees feel comfortable discussing menopause-related concerns or symptoms in the workplace?
I am very open and honest about my menopause journey – no holds barred! – and am also very sympathetic to everyone’s journey so I think my openness and willingness to put myself out there has helped.
5. Are there any specific accommodations that companies are now offering to support employees experiencing menopause symptoms?
My firm has Menopause Guidelines, has a Flexible Working Policy and offers specific menopause healthcare provision for all female employees in the UK arm of the firm.
6. How do you address the potential impact of menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, sleep disturbances, or mood changes, on an employee's productivity or well-being?
Through my presentations I offer support and advice and again, the flexible working policy assists with this.
7. What resources or support networks are available to employees to help them navigate the challenges of menopause in the workplace?
See above and also me!
8. Are managers or supervisors provided with training or guidance on how to support employees going through menopause? If so, what does that training entail?
Yes, they attend a training course and if they are able to, my presentations.
9. How do you promote education and awareness about menopause among employees and encourage open dialogue?
Through my presentations, articles and my general visibility within the firm.
10. Does the company actively promote a work culture that encourages open communication, empathy, and support for employees experiencing menopause?
Absolutely. It is a subject that is discussed openly and freely.
Thank you Alison!
Hormone University was created as an educational platform with the mission to improve hormone health through accessible knowledge and to advocate for social impact in our communities.
You’re not alone.
80% of the adult female population has experienced hormonal imbalance at one point in their life that affected not only their physical health but also their mental health. Coping with pain, infertility, anxiety, depression, body image issues, and, on top of this, judgment is the heavy load most of these women have to bear each day and an important problem we need to tackle as a society.