Should that headline be followed by “and lived to tell about it”? Or, “and didn’t die of embarrassment”? No. No it shouldn’t. It’s just menopause, and it happens to everyone with a uterus (oh, is that a scary word, too? sorry-not-sorry), which is a lot of people. C’mon. Bodies, functions, life. No biggie.
I don’t really talk about work here because this blog is a place for me to share my film photography and personal writing, but I did write this article and a terrific co-worker through some workplace magic got it to the right person who then got it to someone who wanted to publish it. So it’s a short article about how employers can support their employees going through menopause in the workplace. I’m proud of it. But there’s so much more to say.
I’m not an expert about menopause in the workplace. I work for a great company, an HR services company that helps employers stay compliant and do the right things for employees and for their business. I read plenty of articles about keeping millenials happy and engaged, and I see a lot of images of hip looking young people attached to these articles. But, most workplaces are made of multiple generations, and so many women I know are working their asses off right now, and I’m not really seeing articles about making sure we’re happy, engaged, fulfilled, and expanding in our positions. We’re just kind of there, plugging along, holding down all the forts, because it’s what we do.
Maybe the bigger issue is that women become invisible after a certain age. If we’re not sexy, we’re not terrifically useful anymore. And menopause, apparently, is not sexy. Personally (and again, I’m no expert here) I’m kind of thinking menopause is sexy. I mean, you don’t have to plan things around periods anymore. You don’t have to travel with all the accoutrements that periods demand (pads, tampons, period underpants, which are a real thing but I still take them to mean the ugliest, oldest skivvies in the back of your drawer that you save for when you’re on your period because they’re already ruined and you can’t ruin them any worse). And hot flashes? What’s sexier than stripping in the middle of whatever the hell you’re in the middle of because suddenly your body is like this incredible furnace that can heat up a room in seconds flat?
I don’t mean to be cavalier about about the health aspects of it. Menopause has some issues aside from the physical nuisances, like osteoporosis and increased risk for heart disease. But, so does aging. The alternative is not being alive, because living is aging. And that’s not where I’d like to be.
So, anyway. I wrote a little work article about menopause and I hope I can write more articles about aging in the workplace. And, I’m lucky enough to be working for a company that values and honors me and other women at this stage in our lives. I hope you can say the same. But if you can’t, maybe take a chance and start talking about it at work. Maybe don’t be afraid to tell people what’s going on with you or if you’re struggling. I’ve had some interesting conversations since the article came out, and that’s where it starts.