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Rachel Lekman looks at the effects of the menopause and asks whether the construction industry should be doing more

For any male reading this, please don’t think this doesn’t affect you just because we’re talking about the menopause.

Whilst the front-end of the HVAC and construction industries is still predominantly male, we mustn’t forget the hundreds of thousands of females in sales, management, administration, operations and other essential parts of industry that keep our businesses going.

And that’s without looking at the wider picture, with all the women in your life, whether mother, sister, wife, nan, aunty, friend or colleague, who also face the pain, trauma and discomfort of the menopause.

For too long, this life changing condition has gone unseen and is still not fully recognised, yet for many women, it is a lonely, embarrassing and traumatic time – and that is where they need support the most.

This can affect 50% of the workforce. It just shouldn’t be something that we continue to ignore.

Rachel Lekman Rachel Lekman Channel Marketing Manager

A brave move

Davina McCall is a well-known celebrity from many a series of Strictly Come Dancing and an ex-Big Brother host.  So to lay herself open to talking about the trauma of the menopause in a hard-hitting documentary was brave to say the least.

At just 44, she had felt like she was losing it, facing depression, hot flushes and a complete mental fog. In her Channel 4 documentary ‘Sex, myths and the menopause’, she related her menopause story and sought to bust all of the midlife taboos from sex to hormone treatment.

Davina was warned against talking about the menopause as it was felt it could damage her career but so far the documentary has received widespread praise for exposing the short-fallings in the way this health issue for women is handled.

In her own words, she says: “your sex drive fades, your memory fails, your days are sweaty, your nights are sleepless, your bones can get brittle, you’re depressed and anxious but you feel you have to KEEP CALM and CARRY ON.”

And that is what can happen to millions of the people close to us – the woman silently going through the menopause.

Shining a light

Davina spoke to a wide range of well-known women from a host of professions and shines a light on the absence of reliable information available about what is a vital period in many woman’s lives.

After the broadcast, viewers took to social media to share their own experience of feeling ignored and the lack of help and support available, including MP Jess Phillips, who tweeted:

“Feel furious watching @ThisisDavina programme about the menopause. Why oh why does no one research the stuff that kills women and messes up our lives. We are never anyone’s priority politically, medically, scientifically. Past looking pretty and giving birth we are a burden.”

A recent report on the documentary in the Independent newspaper focused on the 10 top things that we can all learn from the programme.

Lessons for construction

For me though, the following 3 are the most immediate that we in the construction industry can focus on, if only by increasing recognition of this and actively looking for ways to support colleagues so they are not going through this alone:

  • 9 out of 10 working women felt the menopause had had a negative impact
  • 1 in 3 women don’t take the time to visit their doctor when going through the menopause.
  • Menopausal women are the fastest growing group of workers. According to the Independent report, there are now 4.3 million women in this category. And only 1 in 10 companies now implement some sort of menopausal policy aimed at supporting women during this period.

We’ve written before on The Hub about the menopause and how air conditioning can help office workers going through ‘the change’.

But perhaps the most important thing we can all do is recognise the trauma and loneliness that our fellow workers may be going through and campaign for more research and support.

This is an issue that can affect 50% of the workforce. It just shouldn’t be something that we continue to ignore.

Davina McCall: Sex, Myths and the Menopause is currently available on All4 for another few weeks.

Rachel Lekman is Channel Marketing Manager