Doctors express ‘fear’ in speaking out about menopause

Women doctors experiencing the menopause have told a BMA survey about the physical and mental impact it is having on their lives, and for some it’s meant a change to their working lives.

A new report from the British Medical Association highlights a lack of support for many and a huge reluctance to discuss the problem with managers and colleagues.

Based on a survey of 2,000 doctors, the BMA says that 90 per cent of female doctors cited symptoms such as insomnia, fatigue, loss of confidence and debilitating hot flushes as effecting their ability to work – with 38 per cent saying the impact was ‘significant’.

Additionally, more than a third told how they wanted to make changes to their working lives as a result of menopause but couldn’t and almost half said they wanted to discuss the topic with their manager but did not feel comfortable.

The BMA is calling for employers to take a pro-active approach to the topic of menopause, to make is easier to talk about and to make sure staff know signposting to support is available. The association wants more to be done to ease menopausal symptoms such as enabling doctors to work flexibly, adjusting the workplace and providing support for mental health and well-being.

Dr Helena McKeown, BMA Representative Body Chair, said: “Menopause is still a taboo subject in many workplaces and that includes the medical profession. Many women feel uncomfortable discussing their needs with their managers. The survey clearly shows that this is a significant problem within the medical profession. Doctors are aware of these issues for their patients, so it’s time to extend this awareness to an improved, more sympathetic working for doctors experiencing this themselves.”

“We need to ensure that we retain women doctors who are a crucial part of the workforce. Simple steps taken now to help women experiencing the menopause now and for those in the future, will help to retain them and ensure less lost working days because of menopausal symptoms.”

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