Page published on 4th December 2023
Page last modified on 4th December 2023


On 9 November 2023 we hosted a webinar with guest speaker and menopause specialist Sam Palmer. Sam is the creator and founder of Midlife Makeover – an online community where women can access menopause fitness and lifestyle support, and which provides menopause training in the workplace. She is a qualified nurse with over 20 years of experience delivering workplace training and 9 years working with women in menopause. Her workshops are interactive, science-backed and fun, resulting in a greater understanding of managing menopause at work, a better understanding of the symptoms and how they show up in the workplace and greater awareness for managers and staff.

In this webinar, she took us on a humorous journey to answer many menopause questions and give sensible, actionable advice.

In case you missed it, a recording of the webinar can be accessed here.

[Note: Whilst the webinar and this article refer to “women”, it is important to recognise that not everyone who is affected by menopause identifies as a woman – it can impact our non-binary and trans colleagues too.]


Why is menopause a workplace issue?

Increasing numbers of women are working into their 60s and this means that more of our colleagues will be going through menopause whilst working. Also, there may be colleagues who are experiencing menopause and who do not look as you might expect (and they may not even realise it themselves).

Did you know…?

  • 1 in 100 women will experience menopause symptoms under 40 and 1 in 1,000 women will experience menopause symptoms under 30.
  • 3 in 4 women will experience menopause symptoms and 1 in 4 will suffer severe symptoms…and some may struggle with symptoms for up to 20 years.

The more we understand about menopause, the more we can be kind to ourselves and our colleagues…. and recent government guidelines expect employers to have an awareness of menopause and to care about their employees (see

It’s important to understand that many women may feel uncomfortable talking to their boss or their HR department about their menopause symptoms. So what can we do?

  • Normalise the conversation about menopause and stop the taboo.
  • Ensure conversations are inclusive and supportive.
  • Consider how staff want to access information (online 1-2-1 support? In-person group support? Workplace “challenges”? Leaflets, posters, library?)
  • Don’t make assumptions – everyone has a different experience.
  • Don’t be embarrassed.
  • Don’t trivialise the symptoms – for some they can be devastating.
  • Don’t offer medical advice; just signpost to appropriate resources.


The three stages of menopause

There are three recognised stages in what we loosely refer to as “menopause”:

  • Perimenopause – usually happens late 30s-late 40s – oestrogen production by the ovaries declines, but is really variable, with numerous knock-on effects which can last 6-10 years for some.
  • Menopause is just one day (!) – the day when you haven’t had a period for 12 months – average age is 51.
  • Post-menopause – the stage in life post-periods – you can often have more of your life without periods than with them. Oestrogen levels and symptoms tend to settle.

These menopausal stages often coincide with other big life stages – such as having young children or teenagers at home, dealing with empty nest syndrome or a career change, or responsibilities in caring for elderly parents – which can all present additional challenges.


Some symptoms

Brain fog

The decline in oestrogen production by the ovaries can lead to a 25% reduction in energy and activity in the brain! This can lead to you bumping into things or dropping things, balance becoming challenging, sleep becoming challenging, and a lack of motivation. It can also lead to a decline in short-term memory, processing, working memory and task preparation. It can also cause someone to have no idea how or where to start a task or not be able to remember what they were told – which can have a huge impact in the workplace. So having an understanding that a colleague may be unable to start a task, rather than be unwilling, can be really helpful.

The good news is that these symptoms do all pass as the brain adapts to having less oestrogen, but it does take time.


Oestrogen is needed to make serotonin (your “happy” hormone), which is responsible for mood regulation, energy and sleep. Lower levels of oestrogen during menopause can therefore result in anxiety. In combination with brain fog, this can be a real struggle for many women.

Joint pain

As oestrogen levels decline, your joints lose their lubrication which can result in stiffness, frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome, knee problems, etc. This can also affect the ability to exercise which can impact your mood. Again it will pass as long as you continue to move (see below).



As well as symptoms due to declining oestrogen levels, we all have multiple stressors from everyday life – digital notifications, to-do lists, appointments for ourselves or our children, deadlines, food shopping, cooking, house upkeep, planning holidays, etc. These stressors cause our cortisol and adrenaline levels to rise, and unless we consciously make some time each day to allow these hormone levels to come down we are constantly in fight-or-flight mode. We’re exhausted, wired and not functioning well. So what can we do?

Food and drink
  • Don’t skip meals
  • No caffeine after 3 pm
  • Eat protein at every meal
  • Drink 2 litres of water every day
  • Reduce alcohol
  • Reduce sugar intake
  • Eat rainbow foods and green leafy vegetables
  • Don’t spend more than 60 minutes at a time seated
  • Look for ways to move more at work – eg go to a toilet further away from your desk
  • Walking is great
  • Strength exercises
  • Stretching
  • 10 – 20 – 30:
    • 10 minutes outside before noon
    • 20 squats every day (eg 10 squats each time you boil the kettle)
    • 30 minutes moving
  • Don’t keep your worries to yourself
  • Have a good night-time routine
  • Epsom salts bath or magnesium
  • Reduce screen time
  • Learn to say no – consider this three-stage filter:
    • Do you want to do it?
    • If yes, do you have the energy to do it?
    • If yes, if you say yes will you have enough energy to do all the other things you want to do?
  • HRT can help, but is only part of the solution – you can’t medicate against a bad lifestyle

And in the workplace…can you arrange walking meetings? Or adjust the length of Zoom calls?



Speaker Sam Palmer has created and runs various menopause trainings in the workplace, as well as offering help to individuals through perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause via her website Midlife Makeover. Please take a look at the menopause support and services she offers. If you can’t find the answer to your question, then you can get in touch with her via her website.

She has also provided us with access to the following resources:

Sam also sends out a monthly newsletter with updates, tips, blogs, etc, which is focused specifically on menopause in the workplace. Sign up via the following link:

And finally, she mentioned this TED talk by neuroscientist Lisa Mosconi: “How menopause affects the brain”.


Do you have a menopause story to share?

The IP Inclusive Menopause Working Group is currently working to produce a collection of short recordings and blog posts, in which IP professionals share their experiences of (peri)menopause in order to reassure and inspire other people. If you’d like to contribute one, please get in touch with us at [email protected].


Other events and resources

Our Menopause Working Group is also planning a number of events, webinars and coffee dates over the coming months so do keep an eye out for those on our website Events page.

Check out our menopause resources collection here.

We’ve also established a LinkedIn group for UK-based IP professionals who want to exchange news, views and ideas about the (peri)menopause. It’s a private group so just send us a request to join and we’ll do the rest.

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