dealing with menopause symptoms at work

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

I’m in early perimenopause and would love to read other people’s experiences of it in the workplace. How do others cope with the physical symptoms (e.g., hot flashes, bonkers periods) and non-physical symptoms (brain fog, anxiety)? Do they talk to colleagues or managers about it? Is there anything particular that they’ve found helpful?

Most of the advice I’ve found about this so far has been a little bit lacking. I took part in a webinar about menopause in the workplace hosted by my EAP, and when asked about hot flashes in meetings, the host suggested cheerfully announcing it to the whole meeting (face palm).

Readers, if you’ve dealt with menopause or perimenopause at work, let’s discuss in the comment section.

{ 452 comments… read them below }

  1. H.Regalis*

    “The host suggested cheerfully announcing it to the whole meeting”

    How does one get hired as an EAP webinar maker? I can do better than this.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Right?? I’m far from the best public speaker around but I bet I could do better than that.

    2. RIP Pillow Fort*

      I could see this bad advice being touted to “normalize” symptoms of menopause. Which I get on a logical level. There’s no shame in dealing with hot flashes, etc.

      But realistically it is just not a good idea to announce medical symptoms to your bosses/coworkers in the middle of a meeting.

      1. Porpoise*

        There is “being private about medical problems,” and then there is “pretending not to have a body.” Nobody is shy about saying they have a headache or allergies or are sore from too much yard work over the weekend. I realize that strategically it can be hard for anyone who is not a cis male to mention gender specific ailments at work, but common, minor discomfort, such as a hot flash, is not something people should have to hide based on being too medical to mention.

        1. Observer*

          Nobody is shy about saying they have a headache or allergies or are sore from too much yard work over the weekend.

          I don’t agree. I mean, I don’t know anyone who is shy about mentioning this when it comes up, but I don’t know anyone who actually makes that kind of announcement.

          1. Me ... Just Me*

            Right?! Are we announcing loudly and cheerfully in meetings what ailments we have? I’ve not heard my cis male co-workers do this nor anyone else unless it was actually affecting their performance in some way.

            1. JSPA*

              Well, it does change performance. Or it can. Think of being in a sauna, suddenly; it’s beyond distracting. (And if you’ve only had hot flushes, not hot flashes yet…they’re not the same.)

              But the classic cis-male way or handling “I’m far too hot” is either to say, “it’s hot in here” and change the thermostat / open a window, or to make the change without comment.

              I’d say someone suddenly literally dripping sweat has every reason to slam the A/C on for a couple of minutes and stand by it, or throw a window open in November, just as if they were the sort of entitled person who’d do it, just because it feels a bit sticky.

              1. Reluctant Mezzo*

                Dilbert had a hilarious (ok, to me) cartoon about Ms. Menopause being parked next to the thermostat. I clipped it out and stuck it in my cubicle since I knew just how the woman felt at the time. Might as well warn people, right?

          2. Porpoise*

            Really? It’s not like a daily occurrence or anything, but in every job I have ever had if someone is feeling poorly they might mention it. They don’t stand up in a meeting and proclaim, “Achtung! I am currently suffering from allergies!” However, as part of general human interaction, people will say things like, “ugh, allergies” or, “ow my back” or whatever. Because we are all people with bodies who don’t feel like we have to hide every little thing because “oh no private medical information.”

            1. Warrior Princess Xena*

              OK, yeah, saying “excuse me, hot flash” to explain why you’re stepping out in the same way you’d say “excuse me, need a Kleenex” after sneezing 5 times is totally acceptable. I guess when I read “cheerfully announce it to the whole meeting” I just envisioned someone standing up at the head of a meeting and saying “I would like to alert everyone that I am having hot flashes today”, which is probably not how that would look but is now stuck in my head.

              1. Glitsy Gus*

                I think in some offices it would be fine, but not all. Most of the places that I have worked that would not go over well. It SHOULD be OK to say that, but, especially in male dominated offices, a whole lot of women wouldn’t feel comfortable even saying that simple statement.

                Plus, there is something about an age-related symptom, rather than allergies or a headache, that could hit differently. Again, it shouldn’t, but the world we live in isn’t always fair.

          3. H.Regalis*

            That’s more how I took it. If it came up, like, “Sorry, sorry my voice sound scratchy today. My band did back-to-back shows this weekend.” vs. “GOOD MORNING EVERYONE. I HAVE A HEADACHE TODAY.”

        2. ecnaseener*

          There’s “should” and then there’s the reality. As with anything that should be more normalized in the workplace, people have to weigh the pros and cons of trying to help normalize it.

          And then yeah, as others are saying I don’t necessarily think it needs to be normalized to pipe up with an announcement of any medical symptoms! If someone asks you what’s wrong, sure.

          1. Porpoise*

            I never said should, and I acknowledged reality:

            I realize that strategically it can be hard for anyone who is not a cis male to mention gender specific ailments at work

            1. Tyler Rowe Price*

              Honestly, in what situation do you think cis males would be allowed to express a gender specific ailment without being reported or ostracized?

              I empathize that women generally have more issues with this kind of thing since the anatomy is more “complicated.” I just feel like the commentariat acts like all work environments are a middle school boys locker room or the trenches of WWI.

              1. nicole*

                It’s not just that the anatomy is more complicated (I don’t even really agree with that). You’re ignoring an entire history of gender discrimination in the workplace, which manifested both as actual laws that banned women, esp married older women, from working in many industries, as well as widespread cultural beliefs around women’s relative incompetence in the workplace. I mean I was only born in 1994 and some of my elementary schools teachers were still going around at that time saying science and math are “more for boys.” And you wonder why women today are hesitant to admit to gender-specific productivity barriers they’re facing??

              2. Former Young Lady*

                LMAO. Some people have never worked in a male-dominated improv theatre, and it shows.

                “Hey guys, Carl got a vasectomy this week, so go easy on the slapstick with him.”

                “Woo! Welcome to the club, Carl! Best money I ever spent.”

                “I’ve been thinking about getting one, too.”

                “Oh, SORRY, FYL, hope we’re not grossing you out.”

              3. Ginger Pet Lady*

                We are not “more complicated” we are just *not men*
                Think about that for a minute. Think about the bias and assumptions inherent in that perspective. And consider that historically women have been excluded from medical research because men (falsely) assumed that women would “mess up” the results with their “complicated” or “sensitive” or insert whatever misogynistic excuse was paraded around for why women were not “real” people who could be included in studies.
                Women are every bit as normal human beings as men. ALL human beings have complicated bodies. ALL of them.
                And men complain and talk about their stuff all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. But if a woman does, it’s weakness and a strike against her. ESPECIALLY in a male dominated profession.
                Tyler, dude, I suggest you stop talking in this thread and just read, listen, and learn. Definitely drop the “but what about the MEN” line. It might make you a more compassionate person.

                1. Jen with one n*

                  THANK YOU. The idea that non-malr bodies are more “complicated” is infuriating and a major part of so much systemic discrimination.

                2. Media Monkey*

                  Historically? or the fact that they never considered (even the female-led pilots) whether there were any effects of the covid vaccines on periods? (makes me sound like an anti-vaxxer which i absolutely am not – fully vaxxed and eagerly anticipating my winter booster soon!)

        3. RIP Pillow Fort*

          At no point do I indicate that you need to hide it? I’m going through perimenopause.

          But announcing it to a meeting (which for me is typically a mix of different people with different standings in my organization) would be weird. I wouldn’t announce to them that I had a headache either.

          1:1 with my boss or a coworker? Sure I’d mention if something was up if they asked or needed to know.

          1. Orora*

            But what do you do if you start sweating profusely in a meeting? Like, dripping down onto your shoulders sweating, where it’s obvious something is wrong?

            For me, it would feel more awkward to just sit there and let them think I’m having a heart attack. So when this happened to me, I got my cotton handkerchief (which I keep for just such occasions) out of my bag, dabbed at my forehead and said, “Sorry, just having a hot flash. Please go on.” If you don’t make it a big deal, it doesn’t necessarily have to be one.

            I literally brought a fan to plug in to my laptop in a staff meeting because I knew I’d be better able to concentrate if I wasn’t roasting.

            But then again, I’m the “colorful” person in the office.

            1. iliketoknit*

              That’s totally fair. But I guess I don’t consider explaining a visible physical reaction to be “announcing your hot flash to the meeting,” either. Not everyone who experiences hot flashes has such visible symptoms that others will already be alerted to something going on, though your response is great for that situation.

            2. JSPA*

              Dripping sweat onto paperwork or keyboards is not something we ought to pretend isn’t happening. It’s bad for the person, the paperwork, and the electronics.

              If you don’t have that level of flash–many people don’t–then you do you. But not only menopause but other hormonal treatments or hormone blockers (think, for certain reproductive cancers, any gender) can do this.

        4. Jess*

          Also there is no way to hide sweat instantly bursting from every pore. I’d rather say “hot flash” than for people to think I’m about to succumb to a mysterious jungle fever.

          1. Orora*

            THIS. When people look at you and ask if you’re alright, you’re supposed to sit there and pretend that your hair is just the “wet look” and sweat dripping in your eyes is perfectly normal?

            I feel like this is what Porpoise meant by “pretending we don’t have bodies”. If it’s obvious that something is happening physically, it’s OK to say something.

            1. Ginger*

              Yes! I’ve actually had someone stop a meeting to ask if I was okay. I was fine to say, “just enjoying my own personal summer, no worries”, while fanning myself. The meeting continued as if nothing happened. I’d much rather address it than have people worrying I’m having a serious medical issue.

          2. Joielle*

            Yeah I think this is key. A former boss used to have wicked hot flashes and she would carry a hand fan around (like the manual folding kind). When a hot flash struck, she’d fan herself for a few minutes. If anyone looked at her she’d just say “I’m fine, just hot” and that was that. She was more comfortable not pretending that she wasn’t melting, and we weren’t concerned that she was having a medical emergency.

            1. AuntAmy*

              Yes! I had a coworker do this as well. She had a few really pretty fans in different styles and I made a mental note to grab some when it was my time.

          3. SJW*

            absolutely THIS. I’m well past the hot flash years, but I would instantly turn beet-red and my face would sweat profusely. It was uncomfortable and embarrassing. My job required pretty regular speaking in meetings or leading training, or small meetings like interviews, and it happened frequently when others could see it. I worked for a small-ish non profit where folks were very laid back, but I had zero qualms about saying, “oh, hot flash, don’t mind the profuse sweating!”, and carrying on. A headache or just generally not feeling well isn’t something that is always obvious, but dripping sweat on the conference table …. kind of is. (that said, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell co-workers I wasn’t feeling well/didn’t sleep well/etc. if I felt it was affecting my demeanor at work)

          4. Chauncy Gardener*

            I’ve said that. Cheerfully and matter of factly, since it did need to get addressed because I became beet red and sweaty!
            It was fine

        5. Education Mike*

          You also shouldn’t be loading announcing during meetings that you have allergies or a stomach ache. It’s not 8th grade; you don’t need to request a hall pass. No one is really interested and it’s a disruption.

          1. pandop*

            Not in a meeting, but on returning to the office after a year or so of WFH due to lockdowns, I did tell new colleagues/colleagues who I hadn’t worked closely with before about my allergies, and the main symptom, coughing.

            Because me sitting there in the corner coughing away might really have worried them otherwise.

        6. A Teacher*

          I am a chronic migraine sufferer and have fibro. I don’t mention when I’m having the GI symptoms that accompany it or every headache. It would impact my job.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Nod. Sometimes I apologize for my sniffling* * I have The Mucus and am weak to Virus Soup, but nobody gets the details, lol.

        7. Asenath*

          I don’t think I’d mention a headache or allergies or being sore from over-exercising at a meeting either. It just seems to be be distracting from the purpose of the meeting. I was fortunate enough to have few symptoms, but I knew a number of women who used those little portable fans to help a bit – without the announcements.

      2. Rainy Cumbria*

        OP here! Yes, I think their suggestion probably did have that intention. The issue I’d been having was staying focused while having a “personal heatwave” when I was taking minutes for high-level meetings. Announcing it in that context would not have gone down well.

    3. SelinaKyle*

      We have a number of a networks my organisation, one of which is a Menopause network. We can help each other, share experiences and some members became Menopause champions, they attended some training like you would do first aid training.
      Could you establish a similar network?

      1. Teach*

        I would really like the title Menopause Champion. Does it come with some kind of cape, oversized belt buckle, or trophy? Because it should.

    4. Mrs. Hawiggins*

      Agreed. A comment like that makes you ask, “Is this your first day.” But even on a first day somebody would know better than that. Ugh, people.

    5. Warrior Princess Xena*

      After further thought, I imagine that what the host probably meant is to not make it any different from saying “sorry, allergies” if you suddenly start sneezing, but the image that’s stuck in my head is more like the “intent to flounce” letter where someone stands up and says “I would like to formally alert everyone that I am menopausal today”.

    6. Cranky lady*

      Unfortunately, I’ve seen situations where EAPs have offered webinars that were worse than this…bordering on offensive.

      1. Rainy Cumbria*

        Hi, OP here. I went to a couple of webinars with the EAP and unfortunately they were all this bad. Luckily I work for a different employer with much better resources now.

  2. UKgreen*

    Well, I’m the kind of DGAF peri-menopausal woman who probably *would* mention my hot flush to the entire meeting, but then I was the kind DGAF pre-menopausal woman who would complain about my period pains so…

    1. Anat*

      Well, I’d just start fanning myself like crazy with the meeting notes, or whatever was at hand. Honestly, no announcement necessary.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        No kidding. If my frantic fanning, red face, and damp hair weren’t enough, I threw off enough heat for everyone around me to feel it.

      2. Rain's Small Hands*

        I carried a fan in my purse and would pull it out – I had several women a few years older than me say “I wish I would have thought of that!” Not in meetings, usually strangers at lunch or something.

        1. Joielle*

          Yes! I commented above (didn’t scroll down far enough apparently) that a previous boss of mine used to do that. Seemed like a good solution. I have a folding hand fan that I bring to outdoor summer events and someone always asks me where I got it.

        2. Frickityfrack*

          My mom bought one of those battery operated necklace fans and basically just wore it or had it on her for several straight years. It was quiet enough not to be disruptive and it was handy when she was working and couldn’t fan herself manually (she’s a nurse). I’ll be menopausal in the next decade or so, and I’m totally doing the same thing.

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            That is SUCH a great idea! Too late for me though.

            I once saw a woman ahead of me in the supermarket checkout line in shorts and a tank top in New England January, with a cold wet towel wrapped around her neck, fanning herself. She said she didn’t care anymore if everyone was staring, she just couldn’t handle the heat anymore. All the women around said we were jealous because we wanted the damp towel too!

      3. Petty Betty*

        I have hand fans. I keep small wooden ones both in my desk and in my purse. I also have a larger one in my travel bag (with spare clothes, feminine hygiene supplies, and other stuff) that I bring daily to work.
        I work 45 minutes from home. I don’t have time to drive home should something happen at work and I need to change/clean up. I also have to work in all sorts of weather (cold is usually the standard, though).

    2. Keymaster*


      I’m lucky, I guess, that I got the sudden hot spells but don’t sweat so it was a case of the cold flannel to back of neck job.

      But the brain fog. That’s harder. I did have to tell the boss that I need time in meetings etc. to write things down or I absolutely would forget them instantly.

      1. Miette*

        This is me–I try to wear layers when I’m going to be in “mixed company” (luckily I work from home 90% of the time) and whip the outer layer off without comment.

        If I’m lucky enough to have cold hands that day, I’ll surreptitiously place one under my shirt on my tummy if I can (surprisingly effective) or else on my neck/cheeks.

        1. JSPA*

          For flushes, a damp microfiber cloth in a baggie, in the purse. Around the neck, or a quick wipe down.

          For flashes…I’ve gone outside in my underwear in -40 wind chill, for up to a minute. There’s no level of towlette or dressing for it, that’ll handle that intense a surge.

      2. Sally*

        I carry a fold-up fan in my purse at all times, but I don’t bring my purse to meetings, so I guess I’d use a notepad if I needed to fan myself (it’s been so long since I’ve been to an in-person meeting! Plus, the hot flashes have become less frequent.)

        As for the brain fog, unfortunately for me, it has not been temporary (which is what I was hoping for), but I’ve learned ways to deal with it. I don’t think it’s odd to tell people you need to write something down or you’ll never remember it, menopause or not. And when I can’t remember people’s names or department names, I joke about my “terrible” memory. I wish I could say my “rubbish memory” (I watch a LOT of BritBox), but I’m in the U.S. so I think it would probably sound pretentious. :-)

        1. Sally*

          But seriously – it’s frustrating and upsetting to not be able to remember things. I used to have a great memory.

          I used to say “thank you, menopause!” when I couldn’t remember something, but now I say “thank you, middle age!” because it’s not just from menopause – it happens to men, too – so I assume it’s due to aging.

          1. Autumnheart*

            One thing people should remember is that the pandemic, the general stressful state of the world, etc. has also contributed to brain fog and executive dysfunction over the last several years. It might not just be the menopause. Likewise, COVID itself can also cause brain fog. Nutritional imbalances too (like a lack of iron). Frankly, by this point it’s a miracle anyone can remember anything.

    3. bamcheeks*

      I was going to say, I’ve had a few colleagues do this! Doesn’t mean everyone would be comfortable doing so, of course.

    4. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I was working one-on-one with a Director and she would definitely both announce and start fanning herself or get some cold water. I think of it as any other medical need — if someone needs to excuse themself for a minute to use the restroom urgently, get a drink of water from a coughing fit, a diabetic needs a snack — you don’t HAVE to say the reason, but no need to pretend it isn’t happening or keep normal human needs a secret.

      1. tsumommy*

        YES YES YES. Let’s quit treating perimenopause like it’s some weird thing. It’s just a body function.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          Yes – but
          Unfortunately, depending on the company, one’s managers, one’s co-workers, there can be a downside to being a woman who does that.

          – There are old, musty societal biases against women that mean some people view older women as less valuable and so any acknowledgement, reminder a women who is alive is in fact aging means a ding to that women’s value. And menopause is one of the markers of a women aging.
          – There are old, musty societal biases against women and their bodies and reproductive health in particular which means any reminder that some women in fact have a female body that does things female bodies do, like have periods, have hormone swings, go through menopause with all the markers of that, may cause that woman to be thought of as less capable, less steady than a man. Or at least elicit the workplace equivalent of a boy or immature GA man tasked with buying tampons at the grocery store.

          Should those things be a factor or would they be a factor in a perfect world populated by sane, realistic, compassionate people? No.

          Will more people being open and direct about their medical needs, regular life stuff that happens to ~ half the humans population as a normal part of life chip away at those biases so that it’s no longer an issue? Hopefully.

          Might they be a factor for an individual in their particular work environment? Maybe not. But also, maybe yes.

          1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

            I think that you are perpetuating the “status quo” by equating a completely normal medical fact that will affect more than half of the population to “…older women as less valuable and so any acknowledgement, reminder a women who is alive is in fact aging means a ding to that women’s value. And menopause is one of the markers of a women aging.” You very much seem to have this opinion yourself to be honest; the way to change a bias it is normalize talking about it, not continue with the status quo.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              I don’t think we can change biases by pretending we’re in a world where they don’t exist. Hannah Lee explicitly acknowledged that on a global level, we would probably all benefit from talking about these things more openly.

              That doesn’t mean that it’s beneficial on an individual level, though. Depending on your workplace, it may have serious professional repercussions to admit that you’re experiencing emotional jags due to a hormonal cycle, or brain fog due to menopause.

            2. MarieInSC*

              I am in a leadership role at a large non-profit, and I am in menopause. I completely agree with Hannah Lee. There is a real risk for women when they disclose ANYTHING that could be perceived as a weakness in the workplace. From periods, to pregnancy, to menopause, to… yes, aging. It doesn’t mean women agree with that status quo or don’t want to fight it. But the reality is that I am extremely careful with whom I share any information about symptoms such as brain fog and fatigue at my workplace. It takes very little imagination to see how that could be misunderstood by those who are conditioned by society to see an aging woman as less vital, powerful, intelligent, wise, or capable. This does not happen to older men, who are frequently venerated for all that aging and experience bring.

              I have a boss I respect and admire, but he would struggle with knowing that there are days when I feel like I am sleepwalking all day long. When I struggle to remember information I just heard five minutes ago. When I write things down and am unsure what I even meant by what I’ve written. There’s no way it wouldn’t affect his perception of my work.

              To the LW, I’ve decided that I won’t discuss my symptoms with anyone I don’t trust to understand them. If the symptoms become noticeable to my boss, he is welcome to check in with me about what’s going on, and I will explain. I don’t think being proactive would serve any purpose in my current situation. I am also fortunate that my hot flashes occur mostly at night, and if they happen during the day, are unnoticeable to others because I don’t sweat profusely. So far, anyway.

              I don’t view myself as “hiding” anything – I view myself as living my life and doing my work, confiding parts of my life to close colleagues. And that’s all I owe to anyone in my workplace. I am, however, in a position to ensure no one is treated/judged unfairly because of their menopause symptoms, should they choose to share the information with me.

            3. Former Young Lady*

              Sexist double-standards do not magically vanish when we shush women for pointing them out, and it’s not women’s job to sacrifice our own privacy in the hopes of setting a new social norm.

            4. Hannah Lee*

              “You very much seem to have this opinion yourself to be honest.”

              To be honest, I do not, at all.
              I thought my post made that clear, but apparently not.

              Capable, vital women DO sometimes get derailed professionally by others who do “ding” them simply for aging or being human beings with human bodies. That is the reality in some workplaces.

              That reality is something it’s worth women thinking about before disclosing whatever is going on with them, based on their particular situation, standing in the organization, and what they know about their employer, managers and co-workers. IMHO YMMV

            5. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              Hannah is hardly likely to call the biases “musty” if she has them herself…

              This is simply a thing that each woman has to decide for herself. It’s like breastfeeding outside the home: some women are too embarrassed/private/whatever and will prefer to give a bottle of expressed milk, others will shamelessly whip out their breast and stare any disapprovers down. It’s the latter who are helping society come to terms with the fact that babies need to eat, and may need to eat while out and about, sure, but let’s not harass the former who are simply doing the best they can.

      2. Distracted Librarian*

        This. I’ve been dealing with menopause symptoms for over 2 years now, and I will share if I have symptoms that are obvious to others. That’s pretty rare since most of my meetings are on Zoom, but my closest colleagues know I may randomly break out the fan and peel off a layer of clothing.

        One of my colleagues (who just went through menopause) said she didn’t think it was OK to talk about her symptoms, so she suffered in silence. I’m so tired of anything to do with women’s bodies being treated as shameful.

      3. Observer*

        think of it as any other medical need — if someone needs to excuse themself for a minute to use the restroom urgently, get a drink of water from a coughing fit, a diabetic needs a snack — you don’t HAVE to say the reason, but no need to pretend it isn’t happening or keep normal human needs a secret.

        I agree. The issue is not that someone should pretend that something is not going on. But making announcements? I think that people need to do what they need to do – take a drink, use a fan, go the bathroom, whatever. But unless there is a need for it – eg you need the lights to be turned down because you are dealing with a migraine, there juts is no need for announcements.

        Of course that assumes that you are dealing with adults who don’t feel the need to make anything and everything an issue. If you are going to loudly demand an answer to WHY ARE YOU DRINKING WATER IN A MEETING, yes, I am going to answer. But if everyone just leaves me alone to do whatever, I’ll spare you the medical / medical adjacent details.

    5. Iroqdemic*

      Yep that would be me. I straight up bought a hand fan that fits in my purse, so I have been that girl whipping out a hand fan at random moments. Because hot flashes are crap and I hate them.

    6. Education Mike*

      But why? Who would this be for? Who needs this information during a meeting? Whether it’s cramps or hot flashes or a migraine or an allergy attack, you are a grown adult who does not need to make announcements to other adults when you’re leaving a room.

      1. TechWorker*

        I mean cmon it depends on the size of the meeting. A big meeting where I’m not really contributing, fine. (Might put ‘back in a sec’ in the chat incase someone asks a direct question). A 1-1 or meeting with 2 other people? I’m probably going up give more than zero context on why I’m standing up and leaving; so they know to expect me back (or not!)

        1. Education Mike*

          Sure, give some high-level context and mention if you’ll be back, but why give that level of specifics? Why add to the precedent that we all need to give a detailed explanation when we call out/don’t feel well? It’s 1) not information most coworkers are going to want 2) setting a horrible standard that is particularly damaging for people who have IBS or morning sickness or a new cancer diagnosis or just rightfully do not want to feel pressured to share medical details at work.

        2. JSPA*

          If you’re presenting or deeply involved in the process, “back in a minute” or “back in 5” are generally understood to mean, “I have a brief biological need that you don’t need the details on.” If you’ve got a support role, it’s trickier; you either leave without a statement, or whisper to the person next to you, or go with “excuse me.”

          But just as someone might choose to fart outside if they can’t hold it; relieve themselves, ditto; have to go change a tampon RIGHT NOW; step out if feeling queasy–you can (broadly) step out for a particularly dramatic hot flash.

      2. Former Young Lady*

        You’ve made this point a couple times.

        Some of us have jobs that require us to LEAD meetings, and we are looking for a way to communicate that, e.g., we need a moment, we can continue but need to sit down/drink some water, and/or that it’s not an emergency.

        I’m a woman in my forties, and I am in a managerial role. I am interested in what those who have gone through this have to say.

        If none of that is relevant to you, it is possible you are not the audience for this discussion. You can always take your own (very spectator-specific) advice.

        1. Education Mike*

          You’re assuming it’s not relevant to me just because I disagree with you, which is frankly ridiculous.

          I assume most people in office jobs lead meetings at least occasionally. I usually lead 1-2 per day. It’s not some super special experience someone who disagrees with you could never understand. I’ve had to leave meetings I was leading when an ovarian cyst burst or my period made me throw up. I didn’t make announcements about why. Just like I don’t announce if I’m getting an ocular migraine or low blood pressure or anything else. Just say you’re not feeling well and excuse yourself or sit down.

          Setting a precedent that we all need to give specifics whenever our health impacts our work (whether it’s calling in sick or leaving a meeting suddenly or medical leave) is a horrible idea with an outsized impact on people (like me) who have serious ongoing health issues or disabilities. Your coworkers don’t need that information, and they usually don’t want it either.

          1. Curious*

            Important point that highlights the need for nuance. As someone with a chronic illness (autoimmune arthritis), I have mostly found it helpful when coworkers share medical issues that have affected them (e.g. being out due to a miscarriage). It normalizes the reality that bodies are fallible and we should all make allowances.

            But I’m still very selective about what I share and with whom concerning my own condition. Once I had a track record I opened up more to my supervisor and coworkers, and was really relieved that it led to less stress/more support. It’s not that my coworkers “needed” that information, but knowing it helped them understand and gave them the opportunity to be supportive. Sometimes secrecy can backfire when health-related behaviors (e.g. repeated last-minute absences) create frustration in coworkers who might be empathetic if they knew the underlying issue. Obviously it’s all very context-specific. I’m lucky to have great coworkers and that’s not everyone’s reality; ableism is real.

            One thing I’m curious about is this idea that one person sharing somehow makes it mandatory for others to share – has not been my experience. Has it been yours?

    7. Thegreatprevaricator*

      I think doing this, particularly if in a senior position, is really helpful. I also am happy to be obvious about adjusting environment to need. I am happy to discuss if it’s brought up. I think the more people doing this, the more normalised it is. I think it’s difficult for individuals to change culture though, and that’s what is needed. At my work we did a drop in session on this, it’s discussed on staff bulletin board and there’s modules on menopause in our workplace wellness app. My workplace considers it within commitment to diversity and access as there’s evidence that it can lead to losing workforce if reasonable accommodation are not available.

      Personally I started peri menopause early (am in my early forties) and my solution is HRT. This is handy as some of my symptoms included feelings of rage, which was not a good combination with NHS advice of ‘have you considered layers’ :| and some of the workplace well-being app advice being on similar lines…

    8. Leave a Message at the Beep*

      I have three ice packs in the office freezer. I will tell a meeting “having a hot flash, need an ice pack” and step out. I have no problems, and I’m in a 90% male work place.

    9. Quinalla*

      I don’t announce it to an entire big meeting, but I have mentioned it very matter of factly as I take off my outer layer on a video call or mention, my cheeks are red because of a perimenopause. Or will briefly complain about bad nights sleep because of waking up to hot flushes or that I used to hate my bathroom tile floor but now I sometimes just lay down on it at night at it is the best lol.

      Since I work from home, I don’t have a pocket fan that I carry, but I always wear layers all the time now – usually did before because I hated being cold everywhere, opposite problem now.

      I’m doing my part to start normalizing it in my male dominated industry, but I am senior and respected at my organization so I have the luxury of being able to do that. I did the same thing with pumping when I was breastfeeding my babies, just was matter of fact about it and still am now to help women who are there now or will be in the future.

      I have recently discovered the joy of metal roller balls (look for metal roller ball massage), I am going to get a couple and keep one in my purse instead of a fan. The cooling is marvelous and I would 100% take that out in a meeting myself, but otherwise might find a fan more normal. In a pinch, I also use evaporative cooling by wetting my face and neck in the bathroom (similar to the wet towel effect), pretty good cooling from that as long as it isn’t humid.

      Podcast link in the reply too that talked about this.

  3. Four lights*

    My mom carried one of those collapsible hand fans with her, and had an electric fan at her desk. She also wore layers, so she could take off a cardigan and be wearing a work appropriate tank top.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’m one of those people who gets warm easily, & this is a good solution.

      Not sure if I will be able to tell when I go through this. My mom went through menopause with no real symptoms, so I’m rooting for genetics.

      1. Old Biddy*

        I didn’t get hot flashes or sweat, but was in a state of perma-warm for the last three years, especially at night. Layers, cotton, cold drinks, putting my wrist or arm on a cool surface help a lot. It was sort of gradual so I think everyone at work just thinks I get warm easily.
        The insomnia sucks but a few interventions have helped.
        FYI my mom doesn’t think she got symptoms but she was on meds for insomnia the whole time. That’s been my most troublesome symptom.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I was fortunate enough that my hot flashes mostly happened when I was lying down, and that didn’t happen at work. It did interfere with my sleep though. When they started, I thought I had a fever at first.

        1. JSPA*

          Those are flushes. I also thought they were flashes…until I got the actual flashes. Really very different experiences. Would gladly have had neither one.

      3. allathian*

        Yes, me too. My mom got diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 50. In addition to surgery and radiotherapy, she got put on estrogen blockers, and she’s told me that she had one hot flash. One. And that’s it.

        I’m 50 now and my cycle’s shortened from 28-32 days to 24-28 days. I’m well into perimenopause, and I recognize the brain fog and the occasional insomnia. I run fairly cold normally, so it’s actually a relief to feel a bit warm, at least most of the time when we’re not in a heatwave. But my flashes haven’t been extreme to the point of visibly breaking into a sweat, at least not yet, and I sweat easily with exertion.

        I’m hoping for an easy passage through menopause, mainly because I’m not keen on the idea of HRT because of the increased breast cancer risk. My mom had it, my paternal grandmother had it in her late 60s (and she died from an unrelated cause 10 years later), and my dad also had it in his early 60s.

    2. Certaintroublemaker*

      This is me. A little USB fan on the desk is a must, and a hand fan for meetings. Layers have always been a thing due to differences between indoor HVAC and outdoors temps, but a tank or T is a year round thing, now, with varied heaviness of layers on top.

    3. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I’m a teacher and, while I’m pre-menopausal, my temperature varies quite a lot depending on whether I’m sitting alone at my desk lesson-planning or animatedly teaching while 23 other human bodies are in the room exuding heat. Layers are my daily uniform – I’ll often pause mid-science-demo to remove a sweater. Looks like when menopause hits, I’ll need to go shopping for some even lighterweight base layers!

      1. Jennifer in FL*

        Yessssss. I teach preschool and typically run hot as it is. But whenI’m in the room with 12 little ones and constantly moving- it’s a nightmare.

    4. Oranges*

      Yes!!! I’m in a bit of a thermostat war with a menopausal admin who refuses to admit she’s unusually hot because of her individual circumstances. NO ONE ELSE THINKS ITS HOT IN HERE. STOP TURNING IT TO 68 DEGREES!!

      Recognize the change and invest in personal fans.

    5. Clorinda*

      I generally say “Oh no, hot flash!” while frantically tearing off my blazer.
      Also, brain fog and anxiety ARE physical symptoms. Your brain is part of the body and those symptoms are equally real and equally “symptoms” not character flaws.

    6. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      This summer I saw little fans that have an internal, USB-rechargeable battery, a tripod with bendable legs, and three speeds. The battery lasts for hours. I am past regular hot flash territory, but I’m still glad to have it and I’m thinking about getting a second one for my travel bag.

  4. Nan*

    I’m in perimenopause (I assume based on my age) and for me the only thing I’ve noticed is INTENSE sleep disruption (at least I think that’s what it’s caused by). I never get a good night’s sleep anymore.

    1. Shoney Honey*

      I just wanted to second this. Wonky cycles were the first clue that this was happening for me, followed by sleep disruption so severe I feel like a zombie at times. It’s brutal. And medical professionals are just like *shrug* “Perimenopause!” It’s maddening. The other day I was having internet issues and my sister jokingly said “nothing you can do, it’s perimenopause.”

    2. Girasol*

      I ended up measuring my energy levels on any given day and tailoring my workday around that. If I was sleepless, tired, and foggy I’d focus on the dull boring tasks and do enough to get by. If I woke with extra energy I’d go for planning and problem solving and tackle the procrastinated tasks, knowing that I might not feel that way the next day.

      1. Tin Cormorant*

        I’ve been doing this my entire life. Some days I get a ton of things done like a whirlwind. Other days I just feel like staying in bed all day. I’ve never understood how people are expected to have the same ability to get things done every single day.

    3. Miette*

      SAME! With me, I’ll wake for no reason, then 2-3 minutes later experience a hot flash. I don’t wake up in the middle of one, mind you, IN ADVANCE. Sometimes 3-5 times per night.

      1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        I recently discovered cooling sheets and I’m a fan. They’re not a panacea but I used to get hot spots in my sheets that were practically painful to lay on.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        With me I had that, with occasional bonus palpitations, ranging from heart audibly pounding and racing to skipped or irregular heartbeats. More than once I thought it was a serious health issue (because crazy heart behavior and flashes, sweating are some of the symptoms of a cardiac problem) My worst experience was the time it got so bad, my sister called an ambulance, and one of the EMTs who showed up said “it’s probably just a panic attack … do you get those often?” And I was like “A panic attack? A panic attack that woke me up suddenly in the dead of night from a sound sleep?”
        ER was like “nope, you’re fine … weird how your heart was racing, though …we have NO idea why”
        Months later I learned that palpitations at random times is a common symptom of peri-menopause and menopause. Amazing and disappointing that not a single medical professional I talked to about it at the ER or in regular appointments with my PCP, NP ever mentioned that.

        1. FromasmalltowninCanada*

          Thank you – you just answered one question about what’s going on with me (likely). My doctor keeps trying to tell me I don’t test as being peri-menopausal and I’m like so I’m in the normal range – that does not mean that my normal hasn’t changed! I can’t sleep either. That and the brain fog is the worst for me right now.

          1. iliketoknit*

            FWIW, I’ve seen medical professionals point out that hormone tests are next to useless because they fluctuate dramatically (I think both over time for a given person, and then between different people) under normal circumstances anyway, so there isn’t really a way to test to tell if you’re peri-menopausal. Everything I’ve seen says to treat the symptoms, and if you have them, congratulations! you’re peri-menopausal!

            1. FromasmalltowninCanada*

              Thanks – I think? :D

              It’s the irregular heartbeat that really has me thinking. I mean I have lots of the rest of it but I’ve noticed that and palpitations but they aren’t consistent AT All so I haven’t said anything to my doctor yet… I might rethink that.

        2. hot buttered anon*

          Menopause on top of the past few years of pandemic/political hell on top of my preexisting ptsd/anxiety and a string of deaths in the family means no sleep and constant heart palpitations.

          1. Old Biddy*

            similar, but substitute ADHD for anxiety and tooth grinding for heart palpitations….Someone should really do a study on those of us going through menopause now

        3. Flash Gorgon*

          This is not meant as medical advice, but I upped my magnesium, fish oil, and vitamin E, and it made a noticeable difference in the heart palpitations.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            Thanks! :) Thankfully, I’m through that stretch, and haven’t experienced palpitations or that being wrenched from a sound sleep in a while.

            Also, magnesium is my go-to supplement. I think of it as my coping, resiliency mineral just based on my experience. Not a doctor, but just going by what I’ve observed with my own self. Anytime I notice I’m losing my ability to cope gracefully with life’s little irritations – long line at the grocery store, can’t find a working pen, family member’s tics which normally don’t bother me, etc, I’ll restart a daily supplement of magnesium (with calcium and zinc) and within a couple of days, I regain my emotional balance and can “deal” again.

            No idea why I stop taking it for stretches, you’d think I’d just add it to my daily “to do” list. LOL!

        4. lilsheba*

          “Months later I learned that palpitations at random times is a common symptom of peri-menopause and menopause.” REALLY? I had NO idea, and was experiencing heart palpitations and weird fast beating during that whole time. Now that I’m post menopause it’s stopped. Well I’m just floored. I’m pissed my dr didn’t say anything when I mentioned it to her!

        5. Maseca*

          Thank you for mentioning this! I think I’m perimenopausal as well (there may also be a fibroids issue contributing to the wonkiness) and have noticed occasional weird heart thumping that seems unrelated to any other mental or physical stimuli. My resting heart rate is excellent otherwise. Also no hot flashes yet but a clear sense that lately I’m just always uncomfortably warm. There is so little reliable information out there on how and why AFAB bodies change as we age that it’s hard to tell what’s “normal” and what to be concerned about. All empathy to the OP and a vote for mentioning your symptoms in conversation when it’s natural to do so. Menopause seems taboo because it implies menstruation and reproduction and other human things we’ve been conditioned to think of as too gross for general discussion. None of us is going to solve that on our own by sharing more than we’re comfortable with, but we can be aware of that discomfort and question it and maybe start to chip away.

      3. Regina Philange*

        This happens to me too — I now know that when I wake up, I need to kick off the covers (and possibly the cat) because the hot flash will hit any minute.

      4. Magc*

        I’ve always gotten them between 30 seconds and several minutes after waking up so I definitely have time to kick off the covers. I have a small fan aimed across my body that runs all year long; that way I get additional cooling on nights when the bedroom is warmer.

        If I have to have hot flashes, I find it much better to wake up in advance than wake up in soggy sheets that must be replaced before going back to sleep…

      5. Atomic Tangerine*

        Ooooh I am so happy to hear I’m not bananas. I believe I’ve asked Doctor Google in the past if this is A Thing. I’ll wake up from sound sleep and think “ok, here comes the heat.” During the day if I’m not distracted I also seem to get a “hot flash premonition” where I just feel…weird? Off? Like an aura before an epileptic seizure or migraine.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I am 41 and according to my GP, my hormone levels are perfectly normal, but I have a lot of trouble sleeping well some nights for no apparent reason and I definitely wonder if perimenopause is to blame.

      1. run mad; don't faint*

        I began having difficulty sleeping in my early forties. It was the only symptom I had for years, but in retrospect I think that was the very beginning of perimenopause for me.

    5. Perimenopausal brain*

      I also get this and other oestrogen-related perimenopausal symptoms such as anxiety (usually least anxious person I know) and hot flushes in the genital region but most especially the brain fog. They tend to come on for a couple of weeks and the disappear for a few months but are becoming more frequent. Except the brain fog. Which is constant. I actually struggled to remember my brother’s name last week for a minute, it was on the tip of my tongue. I’m thinking of getting myself onto oestrogen treatment.
      I already have a hormonal (progesterone based) IUD so I’m sure this has helped with some symptoms that I’m unaware of.

  5. Chocoholic*

    I dress in layers that I can put on and take off as needed. I live in a climate where we need to dress in layers anyway, so nobody bats an eye at taking off or putting on a layer.

    1. Ann Onymous*

      I haven’t reached that stage of my life yet, but spent several years on a medication that had hot flashes as a side effect. Layers were really helpful for me, too. Also, getting something cold against a pulse point (where large blood vessels are close to the skin) seemed to end my hot flashes faster. I’d have a cold water bottle and rest my hands next to it on the table so that the insides of my wrists were against the cold bottle.

  6. V*

    I mean, layers, which is probably self-evident, but genuinely having a business appropriate under layer that was as lightweight and skimpy as possible and one heavier outer layer that was fast and easy to shuck probably saved me and everyone around me from some inappropriate impulsive stripping.

    As for the mood symptoms, I found that my anxiety increased enough with peri-menopause that it was worth talking to my healthcare professional and getting on an anti-anxiety med. It’s a good time to interrogate whether this feels manageable or whether you would enjoy not having that beastie bearing down on you for the next few years.

    1. Liz W.*

      Thank you for the note re anxiety; I NEVER had it before. Now I am an internally blithering mess some days.

      TG for Co-workers at the same stage of life.

  7. Ugh*

    I’m glad this is getting discussed! My supervisor & one colleague are of a similar age, so we are generally open about the fact that it is REALLY annoying and challenging that we weren’t warned about any of this stuff. My younger colleagues are of an age where they are not bothered by mention of normal female biology when relevant & not overshared. Anyway, my brain fog seems better with some new medication and my 2 similar aged colleagues & I just give each other grace about it and continue to do our best, even if that looks different from our 20s and 30s. Looking forward to reading other responses, because the paucity of info and strategies sucks!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve been in offices where I was the only one who wasn’t of a menopausal age and the others leaned right into it, marked “hot flash” at like 65 degrees on the thermostat and pegged the thing there (while I was wearing two sweaters and a blanket :P ).

    2. Elizabeth Barnett*

      Titally agree – I’m past permenopause now and I am still finding out about various annoying-to-debilitating things that come with peri/menopause. Nobody told me about brain fog. I;ve just found out that ADD & menopause are terrific partners in crime so there’s that too.

      I can’t say anything about this at work. My manager is suportive but the whole point of my role is to be a brain on legs so the news that I was struggling to think clearly would cause alarm. Does anyone have any suggestions on this one – either managing the fog, or managing the employment fallout? (I forget meetings, even those I’ve scheduled. I sit looking at douycments on my screen re-reading the same text. Yesterday I spent eight hours in the office and for five or six of them I don;t remember what I was doing, but I do know it wasnt anything productive.)

      1. misspiggy*

        I’m in your situation with the horrific ADHD/perimenopause combo. I’m in a job where most people are middle-aged women, but it’s not OK to admit a drop in performance. I laugh it off when the fallout is obvious – ‘My short term memory is terrible today, would you mind taking me through that again?’

        In the meantime I’m doing everything I can to get thoughts down in the moment, or they’re gone. I work at home so talking to myself is helpful.

        Also a notes app on my phone. I’m getting useful work thoughts at more random times, so I use the notes app then. When I’m supposed to be working and my mind is blank, I review the notes to get me going.

        Other disability has got me to the point where I have to ditch a lot of work norms if I’m to achieve anything. So I’m already OK with quietly doing fewer hours and relying on my experience to generate good outputs in less time.

        1. kicking_k*

          Oh crumbs, is this why I only suddenly noticed I have ADHD at the same time as peri started to kick in? I think I always _had_ it, but up until recently I could cope with it. Right now I am hardly getting any sleep and my brain is all over the place. I also have fibroids which isn’t helpful.

  8. Joanna*

    LW, I really fell for you, I keep saying I had no idea that my 50’s would be so sweaty.

    For hot flashes, I recommend layers, with the bottom layer being something light and cool that you can strip down to if need be. I’ve also taken to using the note book I always carry as a fan, although, I do resist the urge to pull the collar of my shirt out and fan down my chest. A run to the bathroom might be your best bet if that’s the relief you need.

    I haven’t had trouble with brain fog, so no ideas there. Anxiety is something I’ve been dealing with for years. I take medication for it, but when I have a bad moment at work, I either go for a quick walk, or do a little mindfulness exercise to help me calm down. I also have an office friend, who I can talk with if I need to calm down.

    I know, not very great solutions, but they’ve been getting me through.

    1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Seconding the layers. I have 9+ different cardigans in a variety of colors for this very purpose. The under layer is usually short sleeved so I can take the sweater off and remain in professional dress when needed. I also keep a paper towel in my pocket on particularly warm days. IMO it’s better for me to dab my forehead for 5 seconds than be literally dripping with sweat in a meeting.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I had no idea that my 50’s would be so sweaty.
      It is still strange to have my hands and feet just always be toasty warm.

  9. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    I went into surgical menopause in my early 40s, and I’ve learned A TON since then.

    Hot flashes — I have a small desk fan that I use when the hot flashes strike. (I also have a small fan with adjustable legs/head stashed next to my seat on the couch at home, super handy.)

    For the brain fog — lists upon lists upon lists. Asking people to send me an email or Teams chat with the request if it’s verbal, then spending the last 10 or so minutes of my day going back through any emails or chats I’ve had that day. Getting into the habit of going over our week on Sunday evenings with my partner and kids.

    Anxiety — I’m on an increased dose of Wellbutrin. Some anti-anxiety/depression medications also work to reduce night sweats, so it’s a happy coincidence. I was on a low dose before, but the increase dose really has helped with night sweats.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      So, uh, a medication that blocks estrogen production might in fact contribute to increased anxiety?

      …would’ve liked to know that one before today. Sigh.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Yeah. I’m on an estrogen blocker/oral chemo, too, and it’s THE WORST. At least other people can do the hormone replacement therapy.

        1. CatMintCat*

          Same here. I’ve still never had a hot flash, but the other menopause symptoms Tamoxifen brings with it are insane. I feel 95 years old a lot of the time. And no, no hormone replacement for me (I would never have taken it as I was always high risk for breast cancer).

        2. CatMintCat*

          Same here. No HRT for me. And the menopausal symptoms that go along with Tamoxifen are insane. Still no hot flush though. I think it’s something my body just doesn’t do.

        3. KoiFeeder*

          I am fortunate that my family tends to have easy(er) menopause, so hot flashes, chills, and bad sleep was all I got and expected to have issues with. Well, that and my bones, but the PT is working on those. But we’re also prone to anxiety, and it did get worse after the estrogen blocker, but I attributed that to having a cancer scare a week before prom.

        4. allathian*

          Yeah, no HRT for me, either. Luckily my mom had a really easy time with her medically induced menopause at 50, and I’m hoping for the same for me. But I’m at an extremely high risk for breast cancer, my mom had it, my paternal grandma had it, and my dad had it…

    2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Wellbutrin is a life saver! perimenopause has helped so much with brain fog which I’m not sure is from my ADHD, hypothyroidism, or perimenopause but it’s been a marked improvement since I started it.

    3. I Hate It Here*

      I’ve started making lists myself. There is this one thing I do to my work emails open in a separate window. So if they are something that I can’t complete immediately I leave them open in that separate window so I don’t forget or lose them in the vast number of emails I get a day.

  10. Falling Diphthong*

    (I am fully remote, so not quite in Alison’s demographic.)

    Short sleeves. In cool weather, with an open-front sweater or similar item that I can take off. I have regretted every time I wore long sleeves, triply so if the hot flash hit when I was in public rather than at home with my cats.

    For the bonkers periods, I got the form where you just get a period that lasts forever. (Which I had never heard of, BUT every medical person to whom I mentioned this unwelcome development was like “Oh yeah, that happens sometimes.”) Progesterone pills cut that out. (My layman’s understanding being something like “estrogen tells your body to start bleeding and progesterone to stop, and my body had turned off only the latter.”)

    1. Bucky Barnes*

      This happened to me in my 30s but it never stopped so I had a hysterectomy at 39. I’m 45 now and might be in perimenopause.

      1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        If symptoms are really bad (I was constantly anemic due to heavy bleeding), a hysterectomy* can be a life saver. Never met a 40-something who regretted it.
        * Or, as Captain Awkward puts it, operation yeet-arus.

        1. hot buttered anon*

          Had mine at 31 for medical emergency reasons. No regrets whatsoever, but I never wanted kids anyway. The only tough part was trying to suss out if my moods etc were menopause or just me running out of fucks.

          1. JessicaTate*

            “Trying to suss out of my moods were menopause or just me running out of fucks.”

            I love this. So much. Funny how, for women, the timing coincides. The point when we realize we were socialized to give SO MANY fucks about SO MANY things in our early years, and now… It’s not menopause, I’m just plain OUT. Of. Fucks.

        2. Atomic Tangerine*

          I got rid of mine with barely a “Thank you for your service.” It fixed my chronic and intractable (supposedly musculoskeletal) back pain too. Huh.

    2. Miette*

      Wish I’d known this–some months let’s just say it reminded me of a murder scene down there at times :/

    3. Mary Connell*

      My doctor also put me on norethindrone (progesterone) for the heavy bleeding. I live a mostly normal life again. I can only go about 6 or 7 weeks before I get breakthrough bleeding, so I need to go off it periodically, but periods are no longer like a crime scene. No more heavy and almost continuous bleeding, which means I’m no longer shockingly iron deficient. It also helps me with sleep quality.

    4. allathian*

      I learned in my 20s that estrogen BC doesn’t work for me, it basically killed my libido, which certainly ensured I didn’t get pregnant, but definitely contributed to the end of that relationship. I also became moody and just felt out of sorts in my body, something that had never happened to me before. Later I also developed varicose veins, so even pills with a lower dosage were out of the question. But when I tried a mini pill (with progesterone), I started bleeding two weeks after I went on the pill, and it didn’t stop until two weeks after I quit taking it after two months. After that I had to take iron supplements for a few months because I got so anemic. Bodies are weird!

    5. allathian*

      I learned in my 20s that estrogen BC doesn’t work for me, it basically killed my libido, which certainly ensured I didn’t get pregnant, but definitely contributed to the end of that relationship. I also became moody and just felt out of sorts in my body, something that had never happened to me before. Later I also developed varicose veins, so even pills with a lower dosage were out of the question. But when I tried a mini pill (with progesterone), I started bleeding two weeks after I went on the pill, and it didn’t stop until two weeks after I quit taking it after two months. After that I had to take iron supplements for a few months because I got so anemic. Bodies are weird!

    6. Rainy Cumbria*

      That’s one of the issues I had. My doctor put me on the combined contraceptive pill rather than HRT because I’m only 40, and it mostly works.

    7. kicking_k*

      ….oh. That’s interesting to know. I have very, very long periods. Like over two weeks long, so I have one week off, one week PMS and everything’s terrible, and two weeks of period. So far, the doctors have blamed fibroids, but perhaps I need some progesterone.

    8. I Hate It Here*

      That happened to me as well. Mine happened last year and after a month (and an $8,000 mistake at work) my family doctor diagnosed me as anemic and put me on progesterone. Stopped it immediately.

  11. Moo*

    Watching over here, as I experience a sudden, unexpected period on one of my “in office” days.

    Definitely the trend towards more flexible working environments helps. I’m still at the early(ish) stages of perimenopause, but have experienced a few armageddon type period, and it is a relief to be able to move things around and work from home (mostly) on the days when they are terrible.

    But obvs I want to hear more!

    1. Serenity Now; Firefly Class*

      OMG! After 46 days of no period, I got a surprise period so intense I had to go home. It was … bad.

      1. Moo*

        39 days and then 17 days – I feel like my body is acting like a dudebro telling me it averages out to 2 x 28 day cycles!!

        1. InterestingTimes*

          When I was tracking these things the variance between longest and shortest cycle was over 100 days. I started calling the longest ones “personal best” because really I’m just ready to be done with them. (Also Clue said “starts tomorrow” for months on end, which was its own weird humor.)

          As for office hints, my best ones are the most common: wear layers, make lists, stash supplies in all your bags. But I also managed to negotiate myself a window seat in a cube farm by mentioning to our office manager (who is a similarly-aged female-presenting person) that I occasionally get overheated and would love the coldest seat on the row. It never hurts to ask. ;-)

    2. Solitary Witch*

      I *always* wear period underwear now just in case. And I’m have a huge assortment of period products within reach whenever I leave the house now. I am in the “no bleeding for a while and then the uterus just decides to fall out” boat.

      Getting older sucks.

        1. Serenity Now; Firefly Class*

          What period underwear do you like? I have some Dear Kates, and the stitching is poor quality. I also have some Ruby and I’m meh about them.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Part of my go-to emergency kit in my car is period supplies, which includes pants, underwear, aspirin and Tylenol as well as the normal pads/tampons. Would recommend, substituting for the hygiene devices of your choice.

  12. Purple Cat*

    I’m not there yet, but in terms of hot-flashes, a coworker had a mini-fan on her desk and when she needed it, she would turn it on, and unapologetically say “hot flash”. I think there’s something to be said for matter-of-factly naming the issue when it’s impacting other people (noise from fan could impact the 1:1 conversation), NOT nearly the same thing as dramatically announcing it in a meeting. That seems a bit much… But on the other hand, if someone is giving you a side-eye in a meeting for a fan or something, then matter-of-factly responding is definitely the way to go.

    The non-physical symptoms is definitely trickier.

    1. Girasol*

      I never did fans but I found that chugging small sips of very icy water, aiming to get brain freeze, seemed to get hot flashes over with faster.

    2. Hannah Lee*

      Fans kind of helped me, but my go to approach at home, and for brief moments at work when I could get into a private space was to always have a cold can of seltzer handy that I could apply to my throat, chest, between my boobs to fight back the human furnace effect.
      Weird? yes Effective? also yes

    3. Observer*

      I think there’s something to be said for matter-of-factly naming the issue when it’s impacting other people (noise from fan could impact the 1:1 conversation), NOT nearly the same thing as dramatically announcing it in a meeting. That seems a bit much… But on the other hand, if someone is giving you a side-eye in a meeting for a fan or something, then matter-of-factly responding is definitely the way to go.

      Exactly this. The answer given is bad because it is so lacking nuance.

  13. Salsa Verde*

    Sadly, I do not have any suggestions for this, but it is a great concern to me. My job, as most jobs do, requires me to think through complex problems and come up with solutions or at least figure out next steps, and then communicate effectively to a wide variety of people. I feel like I have not been able to focus lately; that could be menopause (I’m at the right age) or it could be covid/pandemic related, either way, I feel like I’m not as good at my job as I have been in the past.
    This is really messing with my self-image and self-confidence. I have always thought of myself as a very smart person, supported by my grades throughout school and my performance reviews in my past thirty years of work life. Now I’m wondering if I am bad at my job, am I the one who is the weak link in the team now? Is there anything I can do about it? I can’t really take FMLA for menopause, can I?
    And honestly, I don’t love how this could be an opportunity for certain people to say that this type of thing is what they are referring to when they say that women aren’t as good as men at leadership/intelligence/professionalism/performance. I work in a male-dominated organization, and I don’t really want to share these concerns with my male boss.
    So I am here for any words of encouragement or advice on this whole situation!

    1. knitcrazybooknut*

      I suffer from migraines, and have used intermittent FMLA as an accommodation before. Menopause is a medical condition, and I would expect that it would reach the expected threshold. I don’t believe it would even need to be named as “menopause,” just a medical condition that requires [whatever you need as an accommodation]. That could be working from home, breaks in the middle of the day, flexible hours, absences. I was using it for my therapy appointments, which helped with my migraines.

      Regarding the self-image question, I completely relate. I can recommend therapy for that, too! But I know from experience that taking a step back and really assessing your abilities and experience can help you take a realistic look at your contributions, and cut yourself some slack. “Not as good as in the past” may still be far and wide better than your coworkers, and even if that’s not the case, you can still rely on your experience, and let that stand in if you’re having a hard time communicating, etc. It sounds like you’ve always been a “Gold Star Girl,” so to speak, and after getting good grades and good feedback for decades, it’s tough to quiet that internal voice that wants you to strive for perfection. But it’s something to think about.

      Also, your boss may be male, but he may have had women in his life who have dealt with these issues. Not saying that you should share with him, but again, something to keep in the back of your mind. All the best to you!

    2. Hana*

      Dr. Jen Gunter has a chapter on brain fog in her menopause book, and she mentions that it does cause women to score more poorly on tests of memory and concentration… temporarily. After a few years, they regain what they had lost, minus a small drop due to age-related changes in the brain.

      BUT! even at the worst of the brain fog, women in their 50s still tested better than men in their 50s on these same measures of memory and concentration. So you might be functioning below *your* average, but you’re probably still performing above the average for your age. Give yourself some grace.

      1. Jshaden*

        I came to recommend Dr. Gunter’s Menopause Manifesto as well! A comprehensive and comprehensible guide to everything no one tells you about menopause and perimenopause.

        1. spinstah*

          I was also going to recommend this book! I have read the chapter on hot flushes and night sweats three times so far and am working my way through the rest of it.

          1. Jackalope*

            Me too! I love the fact that she goes methodically through so many different possible side effects of menopause and talks about how to deal with them. Especially the fact that she’s insistent that being miserable and uncomfortable are legit reasons to seek treatment, and she’s also open about treatments that are more or less invasive depending on the situation and what’s possible. Everything from using coconut oil for dryness to procedures that people with specific conditions may or may not want to get.

    3. alferd g packer, esq*

      I work for state government, and I just set up intermittent FMLA for my own ((probable) non-perimenopausal) brain fog. It’s been a sanity-saver — basically I get an extra thirty minutes every day for a power nap to restart the brain computer. (I call my bad brain fog episodes my Blue Screen of Death moments.) My meds shrink was happy to file the paperwork.

      And I completely get the hit-to-self-esteem part — I’m right there with you. My work involves investigating complaints and writing citations, I used to be in a Ph.D. program, and on my very bad days I literally cannot construct an argumentative paragraph. It’s not our intelligence; it’s our neurology, and there are things we can do about it. That’s been my mantra — but it also helps having a meds shrink who believes me and a supportive employer.

      1. Not Nancy*

        “It’s not our intelligence; it’s our neurology” is going to be my new mantra. Thanks!

    4. Disgruntled Pelican*

      “I feel like I’m not as good at my job as I have been in the past.” So many things can factor into this! I feel this way too, mostly because my job has gotten busier but my institution has not provided me with more resources to manage the workload. Plus general stress…I manage by just taking a day off when I get super overwhelmed, and doing nothing related to work (going to the beach, hiking, etc).

    5. iliketoknit*

      I have no advice, but I absolutely feel this way. I feel like I’ve gotten worse at my job over the last 3 years, rather than better, and while I’m not sure what part is pandemic, what part is menopause, and what part is anxiety and/or possible undiagnosed ADHD, I feel like I just keep discovering more and more things that I’ve screwed up and getting further behind the 8-ball. It’s so disheartening, and it’s so hard to know what to try as a solution when it’s hard to measure (I get headaches, too, and at least a headache usually has a beginning and an end and some kind of treatment; I can’t take an Advil for brain fog and have any idea of when it will get better or go away). Admittedly I’m sure more sleep would help, but between the night sweats and the anxiety about the things I’m screwing up at work and the too-heavy workload independent of my own issues, I’m not doing too well on that front.

  14. Fernie*

    Back when I worked for a company that made products aimed at women of menopausal age, I remember a young female colleague, after doing a round of in-person customer research interviews, saying she could now spot around the office a certain look that featured a Cardigan sweater with a light shirt underneath. I’m now a business woman of that age, and I definitely rock those Cardigans and the “layered look”, for easy temperature adjustments.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Shawls are amazing for quickly whipping on and off, as needed.

      I had chemo-induced menopause (one of the side-benefits of cancer). FAST and furious, but thankfully it settled down pretty quickly. Shawls are my go-to for warmth when I’m freezing (my default status), but I can put one on / take one off without having to stand up, which is fabulous for online meetings.

      I have a range of shawls ranging from light lace to heavy cashmere, which I rotate depending on the season.

  15. E. coligist*

    I’m pretty matter of fact about being a woman of a certain age, but I do use euphemisms such as spontaneous combustion when I talk about my hot flashes. I recently had a new hire, and warned him that I randomly burst into flames, and that he shouldn’t be alarmed if that happens. And then we moved on to whatever work-related topic we needed to discuss.

      1. higheredadmin*

        I just explain that I have no internal temperature regulation. In addition to hot flashes I can get extremely chilled, so I also have a blanket in my office. I’m super hot, then super cold, then ok for a bit, then who knows what is next.

        1. Rain's Small Hands*

          There is an animal called a rock hyrax. A rock hyrax is of the same family of animals that includes elephants and manatees. Its a rodent looking like thing, but it isn’t a rodent, maybe the size of a rabbit. They are fairly cute. They make poor pets because they apparently will just emit a blood curdling scream from time to time. It has no way to control its internal temperature. For the years of my menopause, I took the rock hyrax as my personal symbol

    1. old curmudgeon*

      I used to call them Power Surges.

      The subtext of any female-only conditionis often a real but unacknowledged reduction in perceived control and rank. By explicitly labeling my hot flashes in a way that emphasized power, I felt as though I was in a way making it clear that just because my ovaries were going into retirement did not mean that the rest of me was relinquishing any power in my role with my employer.

      1. starsaphire*

        Can’t remember what it’s from (yay brain fog) but I have a strong memory of a Southern lady picking up a fan and drawling, “I’m havin’ my own personal summer.”

        I like “personal summer,” but then I love quaint euphemisms. :)

    2. cottagechick73*

      If anyone asked why I needed a fan or was suddenly taking off layers – oh no worries I am just old lady hot. Now I am in this peri-menopause age group, I wish there had been more open discussions about women’s bodies, how they change over time and that there is a range of normal beyond the 28 days stuff in the literature from 30 years ago.

  16. Clare*

    This question really resonated with me. I am lucky enough to have a sympathetic manager now but that hasn’t always been so. If that’s not the case, is there someone else in the team you can talk to/inform your peri-menopausal status to? I also sought out people in similar situation in the larger organisation which also really helped. In terms of brain fog I write as much down as I can, put in diary reminders for as much as I can and also ask the same question repeatedly, with the preface of ‘sorry, my menopausal brain has forgotten….’, especially easy to those who know of my perimenopause issues. I also admit to feeling anxious/all over the place when happening. I honestly think it’s better to speak up if you can, if not to everyone, to one or two closer colleagues. Good luck x

    1. Old Biddy*

      I don’t get hot flashes but was in a state of perma-warm for more than 2 years. I tell my husband and friends that it’s my superpower.
      It seems to be going away as I approach my official menopause milestone.

  17. I work for the G*

    I think women have enough problems without announcing period or menopause issues to their managers or coworkers.

    I’m in my 50s and menopausal and it hasn’t been too much of a problem. I manage the hot flashes with a fan. Brain fog is real and my memory isn’t what it once was, but because I’m old and old school, I keep a bunch of written agendas and notes anyway. It’s all good. Everyone is always adapting to something, right?

    The only thing that bothers me is fumbling for words when I’ve always been quick-witted. I feel like I’ve lost part of my personality. How did Julia Sugarbaker manage it?

    1. MsClaw*

      I agree on this — there’s no way I would tell anyone at work what’s going on. There is absolutely no upside to me telling my team (of mostly younger, all male engineers) that I’m going through The Change.

      I like the layers idea (though my hot flashes all happen overnight so far). In terms of irritability or brain fog, I’d just go with ‘feeling not myself’ or ‘slightly under the weather’ or ‘a lot on my mind’ just like I would if I were having those issues for any other reason.

      One of the very last things I would want to do is imply that me having any sort of difficulty was become I’m a lady. We have enough problems in this business.

    2. Girasol*

      Me too. The workplace was pretty openly ageist and sexist, so I aimed to hide it not explain it.

    3. ObservantServant*

      I’m also in my 50s and in the throes of recent surgically induced menopause. Before that, I suffered from horrible periods, hence the hysterectomy. I’ve personally made it my mission to make talk of periods and now menopause as routine/normal as any other medical issue. I don’t yammer on about it or go into graphic detail but I have mentioned to managers and co-workers that I suffered from debilitating pain and that was why I asked to routinely work from home for 2-3 days a month. My surgery was sudden and I had no choice but to be open about what was being done and how long recovery would be so I was just matter of fact about it. No one, male or female, young or old, has batted an eye about any of it.

    4. Purple Cat*

      I think there’s a broad spectrum between “Announcing” things and “hiding” things.
      And one way to promote gender equity is to not continue to have women silently suffer through all the things we go through. Normalizing it’s existence is a good first step.

      1. Former Young Lady*

        Good point re: announcing/hiding as a spectrum. I think it’s a tricky balance for the person going through it, because some people react poorly to any degree of visibility.

        It’s an imperfect analogy, but I think of my LGBTQ friends and how personal coming-out was for each of them. Like, yes, let’s make it OK for marginalized groups to be open about their experiences. But/and, let’s also be careful not to make it their JOB to open up about things before (or beyond the extent to which) they’re ready.

      2. I work for the G*

        I don’t disagree. Hot flashes are normal and people use fans. No biggie and no reason to hide. We have periods and need to go to the bathroom more often sometimes. Ok.

        Let’s talk about brain fog. “I’m sorry that I’m not on top of my game. Menopause!” is never going to be beneficial. Do we deal with it? Yes. Do we use it as an excuse? I hope not.

      3. Vio*

        I definitely agree. I’m male so I had very little idea of what menopause meant when I first heard people talking about it and it was very clearly a taboo subject (it was also when the internet was a new thing and the idea of yahooing or lycosing it never occurred to me). Once I was older, less socially awkward and had the benefit of being able to easily research stuff online, I learned more about it and why it can be a particularly challenging time for some women. This made it much easier to understand some otherwise puzzling behaviours and offer empathy and sometimes aid.
        It’s not my business what’s going on with somebody else’s body, but they shouldn’t have to feel ashamed and secretive about it either.

  18. Hills to Die on*

    I got hormone replacement therapy and have the testosterone pellets. It changed my life. Go to a doctor / women’s wellness clinic that understands that just because a hormone level is ‘normal’ for a woman your age does not mean that it is appropriate or comfortable.
    Vitamins, healthy eating (organic, non-processed, no sugar foods), and exercise also helped to combat the symptoms. I wish it were Chinese food and sitting on my butt that helped, alas it is not.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      Don’t the pellets increase cancer risk if you’re already predisposed to hormone-based cancers, though? Hopefully I’m the only one in this comments section with that particular issue!

      1. Hills to Die on*

        I have no idea. My symptoms were so bad that I will take the cancer risk hands down. I was miserable. I want to live while I am still alive.

          1. Hills to Die on*

            I hope so too. Healthy eating and exercise is huge toward this end and I will continue to manage that risk with medical prevention as well. I am not going to spend every single day crying, in pain, unable to think straight or function, and not be able to sleep on top of it. It’s no way to leave and nothing a portable fan can or layers solve for me.

        1. Bunny Girl*

          That’s how I felt. I had a hysterectomy when I was 20 and I’ve had a couple doctors tell me that I had an increased risk of breast cancer according to some limited studies. I was like well I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it but I was miserable enough that I just wanted it out of there.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Oh, hey, I can confirm that the most recent and reliable studies don’t really hold that up. There is a small risk but it’s more or less canceled out by the risk reduction also caused by the hysterectomy. It’s going to depend on your personal biology more than anything else, but in general it’s neither an increase or a decrease. Lemme grab the studies so I can link you!

            1. Bunny Girl*

              Hey! Thanks for these! I had looked a few up myself and didn’t see a huge trend. I think they were referring more to the fact that there are studies that have shown if you don’t have kids/experience pregnancy you might have a higher risk.

              1. KoiFeeder*

                Sure, that’s true, but if you’re not likely to have kids anyways (whether because you’re not going to be able to be in a position to get pregnant before you hit the end of your rope dealing with symptoms, because of medication, or just because the uterus is uninhabitable due to your condition), it’s kind of silly for a doctor to die on that hill.

                1. Bunny Girl*

                  Oh my god when I was pursuing getting a hysterectomy I heard every excuse under the sun from doctors about getting one. It was getting ridiculous. Obviously I found a doctor whose head was firmly on his shoulders instead of up his backside, but when I go to different doctors I hear all kinds of comments. From the increase in cancer risk, to not being able to have kids (duh!) to just wide sweeping judgement. It’s bonkers.

      2. Tuppence Beresford*

        You’re not the only one, KoiFeeder. Hormonal remedies can be tricky. Many were not a great option for me either because of potential increased cancer risk. Also, some of the ones that I did try actually made my symptoms worse.

        1. Joanna*

          Since we are talking hormones, I just found out that women with ocular migraines should not use estrogen based birth control because of increased stroke risk, and I assume it’s probably the same for HRT. I’ve been taking them for the past 10 years, and part of the plan was to continue taking them through menopause. The new plan is me taking progestin only BC until I’m through menopause.

          10+ years with an increased stroke risk, I was a bit upset about that.

      3. Cold and Tired*

        Any additional hormones you receive in your lifetime through any source can impact your risk of certain cancers such as breast cancer, but it’s also just one of many, many factors related to age, family and medical history, genetics (like the BRCA genes and Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry), how many pregnancies you had/when you had them/if you breast fed or not.

        If you do go the hormone replacement route, just make sure you’ve talked to a doctor about the risks vs benefits, and that you keep up routine mammograms and other cancer screenings. Breast cancer risk in particular is always tracked (in the US) with every mammogram and reevaluated, so make sure the mammogram team knows about your hormone use and they can help keep an eye on that too. Risk is such an individual thing so do what’s right for you while being mindful of your personal risk.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I had the genetic testing done after a scare in high school, and I’m currently sitting at a high enough risk that they put me on estrogen blockers. But no one will give me mammograms until I’m 30, because apparently they don’t work until then? So even if I were to get hormone treatment I can’t properly assess the risk until I’m in my 30’s, so it’ll have to wait until then.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Mammograms go off differences in density of breast tissue; when you’re younger it’s all dense and so will show up as “wrong, throughout the breast” when it’s just “young normal.”

          2. Squidhead*

            My personal risk profile means that my doctor does mammograms, an ultrasound, and an MRI yearly. Basically the mammogram consistently shows dense breast tissue, and recommends alternate imaging, and so we do that. Insurance has not argued with it! Your situation is undoubtedly different than mine but I don’t think there’s an outright prohibition on mammograms before 30. I am mid-40s with a family history and genetic (non-BRCA) risk markers. I got my first mammogram at 27.

            1. KoiFeeder*

              My blood progesterone was too high for the MRI, though I’m not really sure what that means or why they had to check that first.

        2. run mad; don't faint*

          “it’s also just one of many, many factors related to age, family and medical history, genetics (like the BRCA genes and Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry), how many pregnancies you had/when you had them/if you breast fed or not.”

          Exactly this. When I used a very low level estrogen patch for perimenopause induced rage, my breast cancer risk was quite low. Only mt grandmother had had breast cancer in my family. I’m glad I did it; I was going from calm to rage in the blink of an eye over the most trivial of things. The patch helped tremendously.
          Now I’m high risk for breast cancer, primarily because my mother had it a few years ago, long after I used the patch. You make the best decision you can at the time with the info given to you.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        I got cancer, but my tumors were both like 98% estrogen positive, and my body was still making plenty of estrogen on its own.

      5. YesToTheHormones*

        I complained about symptoms until they sent me to the women’s specialty clinic and I felt like I was in good hands there (rather than my kind but not really helpful primary care doctors). We talked through options and a bunch of blood tests, etc. I started an estrogen patch and a Progesterone pill and it helped a ton (for early menopause). We did follow up testing and adjusted the estrogen does down. To continue treatment, I have to do annual screening and a timeline to stop treatment when I get to “average age.”

        This is a long winded way to agree that a special women’s clinic might be the best way to go to figure out the hormone risks.

          1. YesToTheHormones*

            Oh boy! I’m sure they really don’t! It was a bit of a struggle and I was starting 40s.

          2. Hills to Die on*

            That’s so weird! At my clinic, their youngest patient is 23 and the oldest is 71. Maybe another clinic? Or they could make a special exemption for you?

            1. KoiFeeder*

              None of the ones my geneticist felt comfortable referring me to that my insurance takes would see me due to my age. 30 seems to be the minimum age I can start actively getting my risk mitigated beyond just the lifestyle stuff (not smoking, or drinking, healthy eating, etc.).

      6. ThatGirl*

        yeah I am very reluctant to ever consider HRT, because my mom took it and later got breast cancer, and some fancy computer determined that my lifetime risk is already around 30%.

        (I know that HRT itself is not necessarily linked to a high risk of breast cancer, but I’m gonna do my best to avoid anything that could raise my risk any higher.)

        1. KoiFeeder*

          (for those of you who aren’t familiar, normal lifetime for the average american risk is ~13%, so 30% means it’s more than double the average risk)

          1. ThatGirl*

            Yes, thanks for that – it may not sound ridiculous, but compared to your average American cisgender woman it’s considered pretty high.

    2. St Lucia*

      Same! Perimenopause hit me at age 40, two years after I gave birth to twins. My symptoms were completely unbearable: waking multiple times every night soaking wet and needing to change both pajamas and sheets, unable to sleep at all, raging migraines, hot flashes all the time during the day etc. I lost 20 pounds from it.
      I still had regular periods and my hormones were OK so my doctor thought I had cancer at first – but after a thorough investigation they said it was just perimenopause! Apparently the big drop in hormones after my pregnancy coming so close to my otherwise natural decrease in hormones from aging, somehow caused my body to go into perimenopause symptom overdrive.
      I went on hormone replacement therapy (bio-identical estrogen & progesterone) and it saved my life and sanity. I’m fortunate not to have the risk factors that preclude HRT, but I would have done anything because I simply could not live with those symptoms.

    3. marvin*

      Hormones are so much fun! I’m doing hormone therapy for gender reasons and so I’m currently experiencing both menopause symptoms and puberty symptoms. It’s probably somewhat obvious to my coworkers but not something I really want to talk about at work :/

  19. OrigCassandra*

    Hi hi hello, late (I sure hope late) peri here.

    Bonkers periods: Supplies, supplies, supplies. Alternatives to disposable pads and tampons may help. Menstrual cups didn’t work well for me, but cloth pads do. I’m fortunately not in a situation where anybody pays attention to how often I go to the bathroom.

    Hot flushes: I seem… not to get these at work? Evening and nighttime are when I have to shed clothing and turn the fans on. Lucky me.

    Non-physical symptoms: For me, this has meant near-lethal irritability pre-menstrually. If I realize it’s hormonal, I can compensate… so I keep a calendar. Cycle length can get wacky (mine sure did for a couple years), so this is more a “hm, maybe it’s a day to blame the hormones and keep a lid on myself” than a strictly-timed regimen. Trying to get a handle on insomnia has also been a thing.

    Talking to colleagues/supervisors: Hasn’t as yet felt necessary.

    1. Joanna*

      I haven’t figured out the insomnia thing either. I have restless leg syndrom, and phew…I have had some bad nights.

    2. Shoney Honey*

      AGREE SO HARD on the supplies. Menstrual cups weren’t for me, but cloth pads and period underwear make all the difference. I tend to wear two cloth pads and a pair of leak proof underwear (Innersy) on the ‘elevator scene from the shining’ type of days, which I can change out easily at work, and then overnight heavy absorbent sleep shorts (Goat union or Thinx) at night (a lifesaver for my already sleep deprived self), and then for the last couple of days where it’s better I’ll wear just regular period underwear (usually Thinx or Period Company, and some knix for very light days). I know the joke about period underwear people being obnoxious, but it changed the quality of my life.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        I feel the same way about the menstrual disc. I wish I had known about it decades earlier.

    3. miss chevious*

      Yeah, I call the pre-menstrual irritability my “Day of Rage” — the day in my (completely unpredictable) cycle when I hate everyone and they are all The Stupidest People I Have Ever Met. Since my cycle is completely erratic at this point, I just make sure I consider it when I’m feeling especially Day of Ragey.

    4. Crazy Cat Lady*

      The bonkers periods were the worst as they could come in with no warning whatsoever. I kept plenty of supplies on hand

  20. Keymaster*

    It’s been a whole slew of stuff here and it does depend a lot on the audience and your symptoms.

    To my own team when I had the sudden ‘who placed the sun closer?’ moments I’d generally make a joke about it. If I’m a meeting with higher ups/customers I won’t say a word and just tough it out.

    The unpredictable periods did lead to a few cleanup jobs until I wore sanitary towels everyday. I’m not mentioning that to coworkers.

    The brain fog has been the hardest. I need to write things down, absolutely I’ll forget what we discussed in the meeting twenty seconds after leaving the room. I’ve asked for extra time, a few ‘can you just let me note that down before we continue?’ moments. Generally I work with men though so I’ve not directly blamed it on menopause – because some of them are absolutely the ‘women can’t do their jobs because hormones’ type.

    1. higheredadmin*

      I’ve just updated my entire list-making/tracking/planning system from the less detailed one that I’ve used for decades and clearly relied on a lot more memory than I realized. Brain fog sucks. In my experience focusing on other symptoms, such as making sure I’m getting enough sleep and some sort of exercise, does help. I’m on a number of supplements (magnesium glycinate, ashwangda, vitamin D) and progesterone cream (as progesterone is the first to drop in perimenopause), and that has helped me hugely in starting to feel better generally. HRT can also help for severe symptoms. (Body-identical HRT is made from yams and very safe.) Last tip if you seek medical intervention – in perimenopause your hormones are fluctuating all over the place, so blood tests won’t necessarily show low hormone levels. Do get tested to rule out other issues, but in general diagnosis is made based on symptoms. (And if you look it up, the symptom list is HUGE. Itchy skin, lack of sleep, hair loss, erratic periods/flooding, hot and cold flushes, increased anxiety, brain fog, food intolerances, increases in allergies etc.)

      1. Rainy Cumbria*

        I agree on the blood tests. It was good to rule out other thigo, but it didn’t definitively show I was in perimenopause, even though I definitely am. I’m a couple of years into it, and still realising that symptoms I thought were a coincidence are menopause related.

  21. YesToTheHormones*

    To be frank, after experience garbage sleep, wacky periods, lava sweats, extra headache/migraine, etc, I complained multiple times to 3 different medical professionals (2 primary care and 1 gyno). After some wait-and-sees, medication that made things differently bad for a bit, I was connected with our special women’s health clinic, did several tests and started on a treatment for early menopause and it is night and day, friends. Sooooo much better. Some of the testing was a bit pricey (but offered as an option to me and I took it to make sure I wasn’t having early bone loss, etc, etc), but the treatment course has been affordable (in the US, on my job’s insurance plan).

    So I didn’t say anything directly to work — I may have mentioned working on some new migraine treatments (but that’s a known issue for me at work). But my worst symptoms were while we were all working from home so that made things easier to avoid being “seen” in the office.

    1. YesToTheHormones*

      Wanted to add that I’m not suggesting that the OP needs to go to the doctor to “fix” it, but it turns out that’s been very helpful to me, but I had to pursue it with some determination (and my primary care team is generally good about listening to me).

    2. YesToTheHormones*

      And my post above is in relation to too-early menopause symptoms…am not sure what the adventures will be when I arrive at the time for average menopause time and cease/change treatment.

  22. Librarian*

    I’m going to be going through this soon, so I really appreciate this conversation. Also, can you imagine if men went through this? We’d all get extended time off to deal with symptoms and there would be targeted medications covered by all insurance.

    1. curly sue*

      Careful with this framing, because there *are* men who go through menopause. Perhaps “if all men in power went through this” is a better way to make this joke, as it doesn’t exclude our trans brothers who still have to deal with estrogen-based biological systems.

      1. Isobel*

        And cis men who have hormonal treatment for prostate cancer can also get hot flushes, brain fog, tiredness and loss of bone density. Obviously not the same thing, and not wanting to derail, but some men do go through something similar.

  23. Falling Diphthong*

    Thank you to everyone who mentioned brain fog, as I have been attributing that to the jackhammer of cancer>pandemic>mom’s death. If it’s hormonal, maybe I can crawl out the other side of it.

    1. Bucky Barnes*

      Same but with other factors including the pandemic. I’m grateful for this conversation. (I’m so sorry about your cancer and your mom!)

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I doubt that the jackhammer is helping any :(. Sympathies and best wishes to you!

    3. allathian*

      My condolences on your mom’s death and I hope your treatments have worked/are working and that you’re feeling a bit better.

      I’ve attributed my brain fog to the pandemic and the general situation in the world, as I’ve had some existential dread about the situation in Ukraine (I’m in Finland and our big neighbor to the east scares me), but now I suspect that perimenopause is at least partly to blame.

  24. Hana*

    On the medical front, Dr. Jen Gunter’s Menopause Manifesto is a great resource! She explains what you can expect to happen during perimenopause and menopause and details the medical interventions that can help.

    We talk pretty casually about hot flashes around my office, but I would also be hesitant to mention brain fog or anything that could potentially be seen as indicating a drop in my job performance. I’d also love some ideas for language to express those struggles or adaptations and coping strategies that could help.

    1. knitcrazybooknut*

      I would also like to recommend the book “What Fresh Hell Is This” by Heather Corrina. It’s got great information, and the irreverent approach was refreshing after medical book after medical book.

      1. YesToTheHormones*

        Ooooh, this sounds like the perfect title to this topic.

        I started having early menopause symptoms when some of my friends were struggling to have late babies so I didn’t want to bring up the topic at all and add to their stress. Fresh hell, indeed.

  25. Lizabeth is retiring next year*

    I didn’t really have problems at work with symptoms but my sleep got disrupted BIG time with night sweats to the point I was ready to go “postal”. Learn what triggers hot flashes helped – caffeine, chocolate and red wine for me (red wine still does to this day…) Also after doing some research I got my obgyn at the time to prescribe an extended release (ER) antidepressant at a low dose (75 mg) that did wonders for my sleeping.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, as much as I enjoy chocolate, I can live without it at a pinch. I actually haven’t had any for months, which is kind of surprising. But I’d be willing to put up with quite severe symptoms before I’d even consider giving up coffee. I’m just happy that I’ve managed to cut my consumption to 6 cups a day, from 8 cups before the pandemic…

  26. Amy*

    I pack a self-care kit. I have a cosmetic bag with deodorant, a pack of wipes and whatever else I need to freshen up after a hot flash. I wear layers.

    I’ve been dealing with brain fog and faulty recall issues for decades to to cluster headaches and migraines. To stay on top of my game, I make task lists as I work. The minute I receive a new task, I add it to the list. I send out weekly emails to all my supervisors about what key tasks I’m going to tackle for the week, which gives them an opportunity to correct or redirect me, if necessary. They can also intervene if they think I have too much on my plate. If I think I have too much on my plate, I ask for help. There’s nothing like getting panicky over meeting impossible deadlines to make all neurological issues 10x worse. I memorialize key conversations in emails, so I have something to refer to later on. If I’m talking with someone and am struggling to recall a word, or something, I’m pretty adept at substituting in a synonym, but failing that, I’ll describe the concept, allow the other person to fill in the blank and then make a joke about needing more coffee or sleep. I am generally less kind to myself about these lapses than other people. Most feel sympathetic and then forget about it after a few seconds.

  27. Choggy*

    As others have said, I keep a fan nearby, I wear light layers, nothing wool or constricting, move around bit to clear my head, and make sure I’m drinking plenty of water. If it helps you can put cold wed paper towels on your wrists to cool off too.

  28. bunniferous*

    I’m past menopause by a decade but I just wanted to let folks know that not everyone has terrible hot flashes or brain fog (or at least I don’t remember brain fog….)
    What I did have were TERRIBLE periods. No one told me how heavy they could be during this time. You need ALL the supplies. Plus I remember the Always brand was a true lifesaver if for nothing else than a backup for whatever else I was using. Just stay VERY stocked up!!!

    1. Moo*

      this is my current hell… I also have found great value in having packets of flushable moist toilet paper as a standard part of the supply kit!

      1. Crazy Cat Lady*

        I wore black pants for almost a year to avoid an embarrassing situation. Finally had a hysterectomy which was the best thing I ever did for myself

  29. Trying my best*

    Slightly different, but I suffered from really intense post-partum hot flashes. I used the opportunity to educate some people about them, but, living in the far north, I usually just walked staright outside in the middle of winter in my normal clothes.

    If I was in a meeting, I did what others have mentioned and taken the opportunity to leave gracefully or fan myself with the cardigan I was wearing.

    As a side horror story, I went through this during the height of pandemic temperature checking to enter work, so I’d pray not to have a hot flash as I walked into the building. If I did, I regularly had to wait for it to pass and then enter.

    1. Perimenopause Sucks*

      I had a hot flash right before I was going to an optometrist appointment in the summer of 2020. My temperature registered about 101 degrees (Fahrenheit), and they would not let me into the building. I had to reschedule my appointment and wait months because of a stupid hot flash.

      1. Baby Yoda*

        My dentist’s office told me they had this happen often in the early pandemic stages. How annoying that would be.

  30. LawBee*

    I’ve worked around many women who just say it – “hot flash”, hit the fan, and move on with their day. I plan to do this when/if I get that. (Right now I’m just dealing with erratic periods.)

    I equate it to the dude in my office who is always contorting his body for his back pain. That’s a lot more disruptive than a hand fan.

  31. Snarky McSnarkerson*

    Personally, I decided that I looked better without makeup, rather than makeup smeared all over and dripping down my neck. Sleeveless dresses and tops.

    Also, fans. A really good quiet one for your office.

  32. violent violet*

    I have a fan on my desk, amazon, it is small and plugs into my laptop. i carry a fan with me, and enjoy my personal summer. apart from that, we live in a capitalist system where our worth is in our ability to do, to achieve and to make money for others. with that in mind, i don’t worry too much if people are uncomfortable with my sweaty self, and i understand as i age i have less value to society at large. with that in mind i try to not internalize and agree with those that do not see my humanity. i have heard the hormone gels are helpful.

  33. CheesePlease*

    Obviously as others have mentioned, a PCP or OB/GYN doctor can help with some of the physical symptoms.

    One thing with brain fog or exhaustion is to create standard work for yourself if that doesn’t exist. Using routine dashboards is easy until you think “uhh…where do these files need to be saved again?” so work on building that for yourself, or checklists for routine tasks. As meeting managers to send out agendas and action items after. Or make sure to confirm before a meeting closes out “Just to confirm you need the sales report for Q4 by Monday?”. Basically – aggressively manage your time. It’s annoying. But feeling competent helps with not feeling anxious about your performance.

    Really cold drinks may also help with hot flashes – like an insulated cup full of ice you add water to throughout the day, or a mini fridge in your office.

  34. Porpoise*

    Now and then when I want to complain about some middle-age problem I will say, “Middle-age, man,” without going into details about exactly which middle-age symptom I am experiencing. If it is a menopausal symptom and there is another middle-aged woman around, I might give her a little look, which is usually returned.

    If I need a sanity check on the temperature, I might say, “Is it hot in here, or am I just middle-aged?”

    I waffle on this stance, but as I work in a male dominated environment, I strategically avoid calling attention to my gender. Men experience lots of middle-age problems, too, so complaining about middle-age is kind of universal regardless of sex assigned at birth or gender.

  35. Staja*

    Now isn’t this timely!

    I’m the youngest of a group of peri-to-menopausal women and when I hit 40 last year, I joked that my hormones went haywire. We luckily can support each other on the team, but for sure it’s tough when you don’t realize the blinding rage and hatred for everyone and everything is hormonal (while working through brain fog & migraines).

    I write everything down, because my formerly excellent memory is now Swiss cheese. And, lots of calendar reminders. Lots.

    Other than that, I’m trying to give myself grace because I know I’m not at 100% even half the time these days.

  36. Aphra*

    I used to pack clean, damp facecloths around gel coolpacks in leakproof containers and freeze them at home overnight then store them in the fridge at work to use as needed, taking them home each evening to wash and repeat. These, accompanied by a desk fan, mini battery operated fan and light, natural fabric layers, plus staying hydrated with lots of cold water, all helped to ease the worst of the hot flushes. The enormous (and I do mean enormous) surge in breast tissue growth I could do nothing about, unfortunately. Come on Lottery win to fund a reduction!

  37. Veryanon*

    I’m in my 50s and perimenopause/menopause are SUCH A JOY. /s
    What worked for me? I keep a small fan at my desk and turn it on as needed. I have noticed that since I had COVID, my body temperature regulation is all over the place. My hot flashes are usually preceded by a pretty severe chill, so at least I have some warning. I have no idea why this is the case, but friends of mine in the same age bracket who have also had COVID report similar experiences. I also dress in layers so I can adjust up or down as needed.
    I try to make sure I’m staying hydrated, and I limit my caffeine intake to one caffeinated drink in the morning. My doctor also recommended some herbal remedies which didn’t do much for me, but some people swear by them. I am now taking anti-anxiety/depression meds which seem to be helping with my sleep issues.
    Brain fog is very real and it was quite a revelation when I realized I could no longer rely on my memory. I take copious notes (which I always did before anyway) and keep a running to-do list, which I update as needed. I also calendar things like “remember to log into [system]” so that my calendar will prompt me to do routine things that I sometimes forget otherwise.
    If I have a hot flash or other issues in meetings, I’ll quietly excuse myself if at all possible and step out for a moment until I feel better.
    Unfortunately medical science hasn’t come up with very effective treatments for perimenopause and menopause, so most of us just suffer through and do the best we can. :(

  38. SheLooksFamiliar*

    My menopause symptoms were intense and people couldn’t help but notice my hot flashes and fanning and the following freezing and shivering, but I guess no one felt the need to point out the obvious. Neither did I.

    I dressed in thin layers for work, kept my desk fan going all day, and tried to count to 10 before I snapped at people. Thanks a lot, mood swings…I took frequent cool showers but my skin was in bad shape with all the sweating and freezing. So I used a good body lotion for the itching and inflammation, and dye- and fragrance-free laundry detergent. I also worked out a lot, which helped my mood.

    HRT wasn’t in the cards for me and I tried every supplement recommended – black cohosh, evening primrose oil, soy, flaxseed, St. John’s Wort, red clover, you name it – without relief. Someone recommended One A Day Women’s 50+ vitamins in the orange and silver package, and that was a game changer. Within a few days, I could sleep through the night; after 2 weeks, my symptoms were much less intense and stayed that way for about 3 years.

    I hope you find some advice here that works for you, OP!

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I hope these vitamins help you, they made such a difference for me… and it never hurts to take a multivitamin, right?

  39. It's a Beautiful Day*

    When I first started the hot flashes were so interruptive to my sleep that I was a cranky zombie during the day. I went on Hormone Replacement Therapy and have been on it for a few years. It has made all the difference in the world. I got it through my GYN who was very supportive of the idea. It’s probably not for everyone, but has been a lifesaver for me.

  40. Haley*

    Keep deodorant in your desk or otherwise handy! Try to wear tank tops or at least short sleeves as much as possible and skirts or looser pants. I also find that getting up and walking, even just down the hallway can help.

    For brain fog, make more use of whatever organizational system it is you use. I didn’t have to write myself as many notes before, but I keep a to-do list and make sure to stop what I’m doing to write it down because I know I will forget in about .5 seconds.

  41. She of Many Hats*

    My goal is to de-stigmatize this part of life for women since we’re mocked about so much a basic fact of life. I nonchalantly talk about reaching that point in life where I “spontaneously exotherm” while using my folding hand fan. And while some dislike it, feeling it’s less professional, I wear sleeveless blouses (not tanks or tees) to work during the warmer seasons otherwise I’d look worse being sweat-soaked as my internal thermostat is now set higher. I don’t demand the office temp be lowered.

    While it may not be needed for everyone, if *your* symptoms are impeding how you live, talk with your doctor about medications or other options that can help get through this stage of life.

    1. Shoney Honey*

      I agree about de-stigmatizing! Perimenopause has been brutally hard and affects so many facets of my life, and I had no idea. No idea! When I started talking about it with my friends that were ten years or so older than me, they were like “oh yeah it’s terrible, when that happened to me, I (insert awful story here)” and I’m just like, how is this a surprise to me? How did I make it to my forties without being aware of this? No one in my family ever talked about this, around me or to me. When I mentioned it to my Aunt she said “because you don’t talk about things like that!” So I talk about it, appropriately, when I can. I’ve talked to my daughter and my son about it, I’ve mentioned it at work a couple of times. Not in an oversharing, inappropriate way, but if someone walks into my office and I’m sitting there red faced and sweating, I’ll just say “Hot flash!” I agree that I may not announce it in a meeting to a large group, but I don’t want to have to pretend like I don’t menstruate anymore. It’s exhausting.

      1. LawBee*

        My friends and I are all in our mid-40s to early 50s and we realized that all of our mothers had had hysterectomies and didn’t go through menopause. Absolute dearth of information!

        Then we remembered our aunts, haha. But it was wild to realize that one generation in our group effectively skipped this whole thing.

        1. allathian*

          A hysterectomy only stops the bleeding, not the hormonal cycle. My MIL had a hysterectomy in her 40s (fibroids), but she’s only recently, when she was 75, gone off HRT. She’s told me that she had severe hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety, and mood swings in her late 40s and early 50s, until she started HRT.

  42. WingNWing*

    Standing in line to get into (some event) outdoors on a cold blustery January day, I heard the woman behind me say, “Now where’s a good hit flash when I really need one?” Way to take it, and yourself, not too seriously!

  43. WeCo*

    Period panties like Thinx can be a great help for unpredictable periods. They’re pricey, but provide great peace of mind.

    1. ThatTimeOfLife*

      You can also buy the adult incontinence pads, such as Tena or Poise. Like menstrual pads, they come in varying absorbancy and length.

    2. aubrey*

      There are less pricey options besides Thinx now! I bought mine on amazon from some random company and they were only a bit more expensive than typical mid-range underwear in a multipack.

    3. Cee Eff*

      Just a head’s up – if you are a shopper who likes to avoid problematic companies, you may want to pass on Thinx and look at other brands. Thinx has had issues with how they approach people with periods vs women, including some pretty gross statements a few years ago. The founder stepped down in 2017 because of some of the drama regarding the workplace and culture of the company. Thinx may have turned things around since then, but I haven’t researched it lately.

    4. Shoney Honey*

      The Period Company ( sells decent quality period underwear for between $12-$22. I have a couple of their products and they are a regular part of my rotation.

  44. ThatTimeOfLife*

    For me, the brain fog and short-term memory problems were bad enough that I gave up and went on Paxil. It was effective within the week and I am sooo glad I made that decision. It helped not just with the cognitive issues but also helped me sleep better because the hot flashes got tamped way down.
    Supplements help some people, not others. Extra calcium, extra D3, evening primrose oil, a multivitamin. If you are on any medications, please verify that none of them interact with your prescriptions. The worst that can happen with some interactions is liver failure within a matter of weeks, so don’t take chances. (And that’s why I don’t take black cohosh)
    For any dry mouth problems, you can get lozenges and mouth wash that are non-alcoholic and contain xylitol. Sugar-free (with xylitol or something similar) lemon candies are also good. Drink a bit of water before having coffee or tea.
    I also use high-CBD edibles at night to help get to sleep and stay there for more than four hours. Hemp cbd is inexpensive and sold all over the place.

    1. starsaphire*

      I am incredibly lucky that soy works for me. I drink soy milk in my morning coffee on the daily.

      Had no idea how much it was helping until I got laid off and stopped buying it for a couple of months. WHOOOO NO.

      Also, +1 on the CBD edibles at night. If they’re legal in your area, take advantage! The lessening of pain, stress, and anxiety can be amazing.

  45. Sunny days are better*

    I’ve been mostly WFH for the last 2.5 years – in that time I’ve gone from peri-menopause to menopause.

    It depends on the day, but I get up to 15-20 hot flashes per day. All of my beautiful sweaters have been banished and I now exclusively wear short or long sleeved t-shirts depending on the season (it gets COLD here in the winter), with a cardigan on top.

    So what little I have been in the office: If I’m quietly at my desk, if I get a hot flash, if the cardigan is on, then off it comes and I lift up the hair off the back of my neck and will even grab an ice-pack from my lunch to hold it there. That helps a lot.
    If I’m in a meeting, same for the cardi and I still lift up my hair and hold it on my head with one hand while I just keep engaging in the meeting and pretend that nothing is amiss. One person asked me once if I was hot, and I just simply said yes.

    My face typically turns beet red as well, but so far I have been wearing a face mask at work (which makes the hot flashes even MORE unpleasant, because then your face is all sweaty, and you have to wipe it off somehow), so people can’t see that.

    Occasionally, I do get a hot flash where it also becomes really hard to breathe – I feel out of breath and that I can’t get air in my lungs. This is not something that I can typically gloss over easily. If something like that happens around a couple of people, I will probably just factually say what happened after the fact.

    For the brain fog – I use a lot of Tasks in Microsoft Outlook and have things pinging up on my screen all day long. I also have Post-it notes with certain reminders – that I will leave on things like my purse – so I can’t miss them before I leave for the day.

    I have been less that thrilled with the whole process and feel for everyone who is suffering.

  46. Chris too*

    My job involves spending time in four different temperature controlled environments, from minus 18 Celsius to plus 30. I also stand a lot and found that a hot flash makes me a bit nauseous. The job is considered essential.

    Under normal circumstances I expect I would have just kept my mouth shut, but all this came to a peak in the winter of 2020 – 2021. I felt I owed it to my supervisor, who I spend the most time with, to explain why some days I seemed a bit physically off.

    Once I’d done that, it was easier to admit to others during the temperature checks to enter the building. After a while I lost all sense of reserve and would be found wailing “I don’t know!” at the entrance door to the question “Are you experiencing fever or chills?” I would frequently find myself bolting from the plus 30 to the plus 2 or minus 18 areas.

    To add to this, I had a late menopause. Friends my age had gone through this 8 or 9 years before. But not me…no…I just had to wait until a global health crisis made one’s temperature a big deal.

    Weirdly enough this will be one of my – fond? Amusing? Memories of the worst of the pandemic. I have worked there a long time and feel it’s a “psychologically safe” workplace. I don’t know how I would have handled things otherwise.

  47. Nea*

    I try mostly to temperature regulate by taking my cardigan on and off; there is a desk fan but it’s noisy so I try to avoid using it unless I’m so uncomfortable that I can’t concentrate.

    Mostly, though, I want to pass on the story of how NOT to do it! Years ago I was working with an older woman who had a fleece jacket on in the office, fully zipped up, whose face was beet red and dripping sweat.

    The jacket was because she alternated hot flashes and cold spells and she “couldn’t bear to let everyone know” so she just kept the jacket on at all times and sweltered extra during the hot flashes.

    Don’t do that to yourself! Honestly, nobody in the office is tracking how often your cardigan/jacket/suit jacket is on vs off! Be comfortable!

  48. Almost Empty Nester*

    I’m pretty matter of fact with announcing “hot flashes are killing me!” when one happens, whether that’s in a work situation or a social one. Other used phrases include “having my own personal summer over here”, and anything else witty that I can come up with at the moment. But also it doesn’t bother me for others to know I’m having a hot flash because at some point it’s probably comforting to them to know that I’m not about to self destruct or something. Also I make a lot of lists to ensure I don’t lose track of things, etc., but also give myself grace when I do. I had endometrial ablation years ago to rid myself of the monthly aggravation, so that hasn’t actually been a factor for a long time (highly recommend it in case your GYN hasn’t suggested it). Ironically my husband gives me more grief about the whole menopause thing than work.

  49. Trawna*

    I took a “this too shall pass” approach, stopped fretting, and just rolled with it.

    I think the fact that I’d earlier reduced caffeine and refined sugars, and ate dark leafy greens every day to reduce cramps made my symptoms and the overall transition relatively easy.

    Plus, my goodness, the resulting freedom from pain, aggravation, planning, and expense made a few hot flashes worthwhile.

  50. Sangamo Girl*

    If you need an emergency application of deodorant and don’t have any handy, alcohol-based hand sanitizer will freshen you up in a pinch. And now we live in a world where it is everywhere. :-)

  51. Tuppence Beresford*

    I spent the last few years dealing with intense and miserable perimenopause symptoms (very long and heavy periods, days-long migraines, sleep disruptions, the works). If I hadn’t been working from home due to COVID, I honestly don’t know how I could have continued working (e.g. bathroom every 20 minutes on some days). Finally had to have a hysterectomy because literally nothing else was working. It is (or can be) truly a medical/health issue and should be treated as such — with grace for time off, or suitable accommodations. What’s tricky, I think, is whether framing it as ‘menopause’ makes it seem somehow less-than (shouldn’t, but it was a concern for me).
    What I did was to let my manager know that I was having some health problems — and as my issues started with bad migraines, I led with that, and then as my symptoms worsened, I did disclose some of the details (not all!) of what I was going through so that he would understand when (for example) I had to jump off a call suddenly or my increased doctor visits. What I factored into the decision tell him, though, was our long-term work relationship, and the knowledge that his wife had also had faced similar issues a few years ago, so I knew that I’d likely be given flexibility.
    Also, period underwear (e.g., Thinx) was a godsend – both for unexpectedness/ irregularities and for doubling coverage!

    1. Sloth_in_a_speedboat*

      Seriously, I don’t know how I would survive the bonkers periods without period underwear! I love the joyja brand, which has a ton of different cuts and patterns and is pretty size inclusive. I use the heavier duty ones as backup when I know I’m on my period and the lighter duty ones as everyday underwear so I don’t have to worry about unexpected spotting.

  52. Princess Leia's Left Hand Bun*

    Not sure if I saw this mentioned further up the discussion, but I’m finding the combination of ruined sleep and increased anxiety the worst part. Apparently the change/reduction in estrogen affects what I lovingly call my “head meds” (SSRI/SNRIs), and has made them a lot less effective.

    Anxious sleep deprived withdrawal is not a great professional look, and it has made me feel like symptoms have been a lot more noticeable than they are. Happily, manager has been sympathetic and colleagues mercifully clueless :)

  53. PsychNurse*

    I think it is fine to discuss physical symptoms with your boss and co-workers, but please please do not talk about things like “brain fog” or anxiety that you attribute to hormonal shifts. Women have had to deal for so many years with the idea that we are subject to the whims of our “hormones” in a way that men are not. It’s the idea of, “Oh she’s just mad because she’s on her period.” You’re a competent professional (I mean, I assume you are) so please don’t undermine yourself– and all the rest of us– by implying that menopause is making you less able to do your job.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      I am confused by this. I mean, if the cause of brain fog or anxiety is menopause, it seems more logical to point to that as an actual physical cause, rather “oh, I’m just that way for now” which seems kind of flaky to me.

      Menopause is an actual medical condition, and just like any other medical condition, it has side effects. I’m not sure that it is undermining anybody to admit that it is having an effect on one’s ability to do their job, in the same way that other conditions, such as a cold or chemotherapy, would affect us.

      Please tell me if I am missing something.

    2. 1234ShutTheDoor*

      The thing is… for some of us, menopause does make us less able to do our jobs! I’m a young woman in a medically induced menopause, and while I’m still competent at work and able to do my job, I do it much more poorly than I did before. (I forget things more often, I work more slowly, my code sometimes has bugs that should be very obvious but I just missed it, etc.) And I’m sick and tired of the stance that I have to work myself into the ground pretending that I’m just as good at work as I was before I had to deal with my reproductive system decided to ruin my life because if I don’t then I’m setting women back or something.

    3. Cordelia*

      I am a competent professional – a psych nurse, actually – but unfortunately my brain fog is attributable to hormonal shifts, and the menopause is making me less able to do my job. I apologise if you feel that is undermining you somehow, but its a fact and I would rather not have to pretend otherwise

    4. ThatTimeOfLife*

      I am not implying, I am outright stating that the constant hormone fluctuations made me less competent at my job and it took going on Paxil for that to be rectified.

    5. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      Wrong, wrong, wrong. We are not less capable of doing our jobs, we are dealing with the medical and health issues/symptoms of perimenopause and menopause that need to be accommodated – just like any other medical condition for which ADA accommodations could be applied. Pretending our struggles with these debilitating years-long symptoms don’t exist and staying quiet about them does a severe disservice to women everywhere. If anything, these issues need to be discussed more, more managers & HR depts need more education on them, and women need to feel like they’re supported in the workplace through these very challenging health struggles – not like they should be afraid of being criticized or demoted or fired because of them. That would be illegal by the way. A very high percentage of women going through menopause and perimenopause consider quitting their jobs, going part time, or changing jobs because they receive absolutely zero support or understanding or accommodations from their workplaces or bosses. When is that going to change?? Certainly not as long as we stay quiet & fearful about it.

  54. silly little public health worker*

    my boss went through perimenopause a couple of years ago and was very up-front about it. like, simply just told me, “i’m having a hot flash, i’m turning the fan on” while we were talking. the helpful thing about this was 1) it wasn’t awkward because she was clearly uncomfortable and trying to hide it or whatever, and 2) we shared an office (this was awful but lolol it’s over now) and it helped us both talk openly about accommodations for her that didn’t drive me nuts.

    what i DID NOT enjoy was her telling me about some of her other symptoms, like changes to her sex drive. but i assume you would not do that, because you are a reasonable person who understands that regardless of what your reason could possibly be, your captive employee does not want to hear about your ~*private life*~!!!

  55. Liz*

    I work in an industry that is heavy with middle aged women (including me!), so often there are rueful jokes about the physical stuff (“it is hot in here or a hot flash?”), and no one cares about how often you take off layers, or if your hair gets pulled up by the afternoon. Most of mine happen when I’m trying to sleep, though, so it’s mostly fatigue I struggle with.

    I will also say that I am repressed enough that I do everything possible not to make a big deal about “women’s issues” at work because I have a fear of the “this is why women don’t belong in important jobs” reaction (which is probably silly of me).

    Brain fog and anxiety pretty much overlap with my ADHD symptoms and I handle the same way: Identify when I’m most likely to be able to focus, when my anxiety spikes, etc and try to schedule my days around that. For example I am much sharper in the early morning, so that’s when I schedule stuff that needs thinky thoughts and focus. I block off morning time on my calendar to try to prevent getting scheduled into meetings.
    I make heavy use of post it notes all over my desk to remind me of important things that I am anxious about forgetting.
    I try to step away from my desk for a short walk or a few minutes of outside time to reset.
    When I’m WFH, I may lie down for 20 minutes if I am very tired.

  56. Distracted Librarian*

    I have only a few minutes, so I apologize if my advice has been repeated above. Here’s what works for me:
    * For brain fog: taking detailed notes. Use Outlook task list to track task status and next actions. Use calendar to remind me. Short walking breaks to clear my head.
    * For hot flushes: handheld fan, dress in layers. Also mind over matter: this is annoying but it will pass in a minute or two, try to focus on something else or stand up and take a break.
    * For sleep deprivation: sleep meds. I know, they wouldn’t be everyone’s choice, but they help me. On WFH days I’ve also laid down for a few minutes on really bad days. I’m a terrible napper, but sometimes lying down with my eyes closed for a few minutes helps.

    Most of all: be kind to yourself. The symptoms are real, and they suck. It’s OK to take breaks, even take a few hours or a day off now and then if you need to.

    One last recommendation: for excellent factual information on all things menopause with a decidedly feminist slant, check out The Menopause Manifesto by Dr. Jennifer Gunter.

  57. Chris too*

    I work in an environment with four different temperature areas, from minus 18 C to plus 30. It’s essential and we worked right through the worst of the pandemic.

    Under normal circumstances I think I would have kept my mouth shut, but my hot flashes really came to a head in the winter of 2020-2021. I felt I owed it to my supervisor, whom I spend a lot of time with, to explain why I seemed a bit off physically. He would smile as he saw me bolting from 30 degrees to minus 18.

    Once I had done that I lost my reserve about the whole thing. I’d be found at the screening entrance wailing “I don’t know!” to the question, “Are you experiencing fever or chills?”

    To add to this, I had a very late menopause and all my friends the same age had gone through it 8 or 9 years previously. But not me – I just had to wait until a global crisis made one’s temperature a big deal.

    Weirdly enough this has become one of my fond? Amusing? memories of the worst of the pandemic.

    I did notice I wasn’t as sharp as usual at work but I put it down to – you know – fear of catching a serious disease. It never occurred to me it might be partially hormonal until I read all the comments here.

  58. Beth*

    My night sweats were terrible; I started wearing a soft cotton t-shirt to bed, and keeping a second clean, dry cotton t-shirt next to the bed. When I woke up soaked, I would shuck off the wet garment and put on the dry one. Without this, I don’t think I would have had one good night’s sleep in an entire decade.

    The other useful tip: my doctor put me on sertraline (Zoloft) for depression at about the time I entered perimenopause. It turned out that it was unexpectedly effective in reducing my hot flashes! Sertraline isn’t for everyone — a friend of mine had bad side-effects from it — but for some, it’s frigging magic.

  59. WellRed*

    My brain fog really kicked in about the time we went WFH and mainly digital and Covid fears etc. it’s heartening to know I’m not alone and it’s a real thing.

  60. Observer*

    and when asked about hot flashes in meetings, the host suggested cheerfully announcing it to the whole meeting (face palm).

    Is offering feedback a reasonable and realistic option. Because that’s just such a bad idea in soooo many cases, and even when it’s not a terrible idea, it’s just not useful.

    I just basically powered through it – I didn’t have much choice as there is literally no realistic way to adjust temperatures in individual offices. Fortunately, I mostly did have the option to not be around people too much on a bad day. If you don’t have that option, and your flush is noticeable, you might want to acknowledge it in a matter of fact way and move forward (eg “Don’t mind my flush, it will pass on its own. What are the next steps for the Watchamacallit project?”

  61. Canadian Girl*

    As a long time sufferer of hot flashes (they started at 22 and I am 39 now), I can totally sympathize. I would get 3-4 per day!

    I found dressing in layers, even throughout winter, was helpful. Most days I would end up in my skirt with only a short-sleeved blouse due to the hot flashes.

    I also kept a fan on my desk to blow on my upper body & face, and a second fan to blow under my desk onto my bare legs.

    I also kept an ice pack in the freezer at work and used it the back of my neck as needed. Or, you can try running cold water over your inner wrists.

    On really bad days, I would go home at lunch to have a cold shower and put on fresh clothes. This only worked as I live 2.5 km’s away from the office.

    I also found some hot flash spray that worked wonders when sprayed on the back of my neck and inner wrists. This is something I could only use during WFH due to the scent (I am in a fragrance fee work environment). If you can’t find the cooling spray, it might be worth looking at the pharmacy for liquid ice as they are similar with the cooling ingredients.

    Good Luck!

  62. DivergentStitches*

    Not much to add as far as advice, just offering solidarity. I’m postmenopausal but I’ve experienced a hot flash or two at work. I think more people need to understand it’s not just feeling hot. My neck gets super hot and I start to shake uncontrollably and I need to sit and rest, have a glass of ice water, and wait 15-20 minutes until it passes.

    Thankfully I work remotely so that’s something I can do.

  63. raincoaster*

    Look into Dong Quai, a Chinese herb. Get the tincture because if you get the dry firm and make tea it’ll stink up your whole house. It really helps with symptoms, although you should not take it if you have fibroids. It’s Angelica root, and it’s both very safe and very cheap. I was super skeptical but stunned at how well it worked. And hey, $20 for a month’s supply!

  64. OlympiasEpiriot*

    personally, all I did was add a cheap but nice hand fan to every purse, briefcase, backpack and other thing I could use to carry stuff that I own and went ahead with using it whenever I needed. if people noticed, I would just say that I felt hot.

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*

      But, I was mostly lucky that was my major issue that others would notice.

      (I did get diagnosed w/ microvascular cardiac disorder, but, that’s a separate and not visible issue)

  65. RCS*

    I don’t get hot flashes at work, thankfully. But do have extra heavy periods. I have been using a menstrual cup for the last 3 years and it is a game changer for me. I definitely suggest it for anyone who menstruates whatever stage you are in your life.

  66. Rain's Small Hands*

    First, its horrible. And the hot flashes are the least important part of it. Its the anxiety, the hormonal nuttiness. I was able to leave all of the antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds behind once menopause was firmly established.

    And we don’t talk about it enough. We MIGHT talk about the hot flashes, but we sure don’t talk enough about the random anxiety, the random rage. And we don’t talk about the length – I think I started experiencing the emotional symptoms maybe ten years before my cycle stopped.

    Consider medication. My own going through menopause kit was trazadone for sleep (I still use that one) plus buspirone for anxiety and an antidepressant. I also got a whole SIX benzos (Ativan) every six months for when I was going to go truly off the rails – and would usually use two (they are addictive, so it took some convincing). I’m a bad candidate for HRT because my mother got uterine cancer probably from HRT.

    The memory doesn’t come back. I wish it did. The advice on building the habits you probably didn’t use to need is good. I’ve always been pretty neurotypical, but my youngest is ADHD and I started picking up some ADHD coping skills.

    Be kind to yourself. If you can and don’t already have one, pick up a hobby that you can retreat into – knitting possibly saved my sanity and I made two quilts during the FIVE YEARS I was a basket case. Eat well, exercise, all that crap. It doesn’t get easier on the other side of this process to do the eat well and exercise thing. But it does help.

    And talk about it. Talk about it to women at work who are around your age. To your friends. To younger women. Even to, gasp, men who will be sympathetic (you’d be surprised by the “yeah, my wife went through that, I get it”).

    You’ll have good days and bad days, so use your good brain days productively, and recognize your bad brain days might not be the day to undertake finding a mistake in the general ledger or learning new software. If you can choose your tasks around your mental state, take advantage of it.

    1. Rainy Cumbria*

      Yes! It’s surprising just how helpful it is just to talk about it and know you’re not alone.

    2. Pobody's Nerfect*

      Please don’t generalize for all women saying “the memory doesn’t come back.” Maybe that happened to you but it’s scaremongering and not helpful. There have been longitudinal studies showing that for a large percentage of women, the brain fog/concentration & memory problems during perimenopause and menopause do actually stabilize and improve once a woman is entirely through menopause and on the other side after a few years.

  67. Anne Wentworth*

    I would love for these “non-physical symptoms” to be recognized as physical symptoms because your brain is, in fact, part of your body. If menopause is causing brain fog, then that is a physical symptom.

  68. DD*

    My hot flashes were minimal and manageable with a small under desk fan and brain fog wasn’t bad but the anxiety was surprising to me, I hadn’t expected that. I found regular physical activity was the best thing I could do for the anxiety. I could tell the difference with the level of anxiety when I didn’t get a 30 minute walk that day.

    1. it's me*

      I was just about to say that for me vigorous physical activity helps with the brain fog as well as the sleep problems, in general.

  69. I'm Done*

    I don’t really have any good answers for you. I worked in a predominantly male environment which was sexist and dismissive towards women in general and I was in a key position so there was no way that I would have disclosed my menopausal issues to my boss or colleagues. At the same time I hit menopause, I also dealt with untreated hypothyroidism which has a lot of the same symptoms, so it was a really fun period. I just tried to power through it. I did go on HRT and that helped with the mood swings and hot flashes and I finally got treatment for my thyroid issues. Though I never went back to feeling like I did before. I continued to struggle with memory issues and insomnia. It was extremely stressful and I think I would have been well served to also get on anti-anxiety meds. Hopefully, you work in a more supportive environment where you can be more open about what you’re going through.

  70. angrymathsteacher*

    I’ve been open about it in my former job (a close – nearly all male – team where we sat through extremely long pay negotiation meetings and had lengthy discussions about their prostate troubles and need for toilet breaks) and current job (again a close team, this time nearly all female and all peri or menopausal). I think this is positive – as others have said – if you can be sure how it will land and it’s not going to be yet another thing that ‘others’ you as a woman in the workplace.

    In terms of practicals… making sure I have a supply of pads in my desk drawer (it’s been over a year now since I had a full period but I don’t trust my body!). Ventilation if possible, layers (light jumpers particularly). I’m a teacher in Scotland so have taught through a covid winter with windows open, a howling gale and a short sleeved shirt on – the kids think I’m superhuman, my colleagues know that menopause is my superpower…. also HRT. I was peri at 42, advised by consultant (I had to get another gynae issue checked) that “early” menopause (before the age of 51) can increase risk of certain cancers and that they’d recommend HRT. My symptoms hadn’t been all that bad – sweats, flashes and tiredness – but it definitely helps and I notice the uptick in symptoms if I’m a day or two without patches.

    PS. I’m never sure if the anger is menopause or the government/Brexit/capitalism. A 50:50 call really.

  71. cleo*

    Just want to shout out What Fresh Hell Is This? Perimenopause, Menopause, Other Indignities, and You by Heather Corinna. It’s the book I wish that had existed 10 years ago when I was starting perimenopause.

    In terms of practical, work related advice, being able to have some flexibility in your work schedule really helps. I happened to be freelancing during a lot of my experience of perimenopause and menopause and being able set my own schedule was helpful, especially on days when I didn’t get much sleep due to night sweats or insomnia was very helpful.

  72. Perimenopause Sucks*

    Thank you for this conversation. I haven’t read through all the comments yet, but I plan to. I’ve been in perimenopausal hell for around 5 years. It’s been really hard.
    To deal with hot flashes, I’ve banished polyester fabric completely. Polyester (even in a cotton/polyester blend) makes me sweat and makes hot flashes worse for me. Natural fabrics like 100% cotton or linen work much better.
    I’m still struggling with insomnia on a regular basis, and that makes all the other symptoms worse. I’m in a place where weed is legal, though, and I’ve been thinking about trying edibles to help me get consistent sleep.

    1. Perimenopause Sucks*

      Ha, the brain fog made me forget that I wanted to say I get hot flashes on my Zoom meetings pretty regularly, so when I’m on camera I get to see *exactly* how red my face gets. I hate it.

    2. jane's nemesis*

      I am not a doctor (or a weed pharmacist) but I definitely suggest checking out medical marijuana for your insomnia. We have MMJ in my state (but not legal recreational weed) and there’s a cbd/thc tincture that calms my anxiety AND helps me sleep at night AND helps my headaches. I’d call it miraculous except I don’t love getting the munchies at 8:00 at night!

      1. ThatTimeOfLIfe*

        I use high cbd/low (or no) thc tinctures and edibles, e.g., 40:1 mg or straight 30mg. Works very well.

  73. TuckerMom*

    HRT is a lifesaver. Estrogen Matters is a great book on the subject. Also, the Menopause subreddit on Reddit is really helpful and a good place to rant.

  74. Ari*

    My periods got really bad about two years ago—as in, unable to sleep for three days straight due to extreme cramping and nausea. My gyn put me on a low dose BC pill that has been a lifesaver.
    I’ve always been a big note taker and list maker, but I have to rely on them more lately.
    I haven’t tried it yet, but I know people who use a menopause relief supplement called Estroven (purchased at Costco) and swear by it. I’m planning to ask my doc about it when I visit in a couple of weeks. My most recent issue is Very Big Emotions—feeling angry all day for no reason, or crying at the drop of a hat. Not sure if that’s perimenopause or not, but I would really love to not be an emotional roller coaster all the time.

  75. Texan In Exile*

    Hot flashes are awful. I used to think they were funny, but that was before I started having them. I will never use them as a punch line again.

    Here is what I have learned about them and about menopause:

    * It doesn’t matter how cold it is in the room, your boiling hot insides plus your freezing cold outside will not average out to a perfect temperature.

    * Once the estrogen stops, all kinds of other crap starts. Like bladder stuff. My fellow women – if you find that you are getting weird bladder pain and discomfort, it might not be a UTI – you might be developing a sensitivity to certain foods. Not only a sensitivity, but a sensitivity that varies by time of day.

    That is, I can eat acidy stuff like vinegar and lemon juice and picante things like jalapenos in the morning, but not after about 5:00 p.m., which means my breakfasts are unusual. When I have discomfort, I take AZO (or the generic equivalent). (It’s the stuff that turns your pee orange – you have to take it with a full glass of water – it works by getting into and coating the inside of your bladder.)

    * I miss sleeping through the night.

    * If you are a migraineur – as I am – you cannot take HRT. As my doc put it, DO YOU WANT TO DIE OF A STROKE?

    * Do you know how much more money is spent on ED research than on women’s health issues? Like orders of magnitude. I am so angry about all of this.

    1. Baby Yoda*

      You also want to be careful taking any replacement therapy if you have had or your family has had breast cancer caused by estrogen. You’d also want to avoid foods like soy and flax, and many supplements that are listed as having estrogenic effects.

      1. Rain's Small Hands*

        I have a consult next week for a hysterectomy and bladder sling. Because I was talking to the nurse practioner – I’m past menopause but..

        1) I pee when I run, jump, sneeze, cough, stand for too long, or think about peeing. This despite doing physical therapy for kegels to the level that I thought I was training for the Olympic kegel team. I still do them, about 200 a day.

        2) I have a cyst on an ovary with “concerning margins” so come back in six weeks for another ultrasound.

        3) I have fibroids that have been not painful but uncomfortable for five years.

        4) Sex with my husband is painful

        5) I’m suffering from some uterine prolapse – that’s right, my uterus is so sick of this that its making a break for freedom all by itself (this also has to do with the weak pelvic floor).

        The solution for most of this is HRT – which will help with a lot of these things. But my mother had uterine cancer, my sister had a double mascetomy before 40, I have an aunt and a cousin who are breast cancer survivors and THERE IS A CYST ON MY OVERY WITH CONCERNING MARGINS.

        At this point I looked at the nurse practioner and said “why do I still have this.” She said “let’s schedule you a surgery consult.”

        1. Pobody's Nerfect*

          Vaginal estrogen (in cream, pessary or ring form) is now the number one treatment recommendation against symptoms of GSM (Genitourinary Syndrome of the Menopause). Look it up, it could really help you. And it’s not systemic, it stays only in the vagina/vulva area, so medical experts and doctors say it’s completely safe for those with other health concerns (family/self cancer history, migraines, HTN, etc).

    2. Anonish for this*

      “will not average out to a perfect temperature”: TRUTH!

      For me, it’s my boiling hot torso and freezing feet, but yeah.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      Ooops! And I completely left out how I dealt with it at work.

      I tried to normalize talking about it. I have never heard my mom or older female relatives talk about menopause, much less older female co-workers, so I decided I was going to blaze that trail for my younger female co-workers. Most of it was asking the question, “Is it hot in here or am I having a hot flash?” Because honestly I just couldn’t tell most of the time.

      But I wanted them to know that it’s a thing that happens and it’s not a thing that happens only to very old bent over white haired ladies and that it’s not a joke, which is what I used to think until it happened to me.

      I was not brave enough to say anything around my male co-workers, though. (Although I did use the initial lack of a period tracker on the Fitbit as an example of how a lack of diversity on teams leads to bad product design anytime I talked to the male R&D engineers. Their response was often, “But don’t periods happen every 28 days?”)

    4. Pobody's Nerfect*

      Vaginal estrogen (available by Rx in cream, pessary or ring form) is now the number one treatment recommendation against symptoms of GSM (Genitourinary Syndrome of the Menopause). Look it up, it could really help you. And it’s not systemic, it stays only in the vagina/vulva area, so medical experts and doctors say it’s completely safe for those with other health concerns (family/self cancer history, migraines, HTN, etc).

  76. Anon for This*

    Talk to your doctor – I got a prescription that helped with hot flashes. It didn’t get rid of the hot flashes, but lessened them. Note – the prescription was an anti-depressant, and had a few side effects, but getting a decent night’s sleep was more than worth it. Everyone’s medical needs are different, so your doctor may not want to go that route. Mine strongly resisted until she finally saw the toll no sleep was taking on me.

    In addition to the layers everyone is talking about, I would fill a water bottle about half full, freeze it on its side overnight, then fill with water in the morning. The half ice kept the water ice cold which helped in meetings.

    Good luck – and a warning – menopause can sometimes take a very long time. For me it was several years.

  77. Stephany*

    A little desk fan that can be plugged into a USB port is handy. If you have a fridge at work, put one of those buckwheat neck pillows in the freezer and drape it on your neck during hot flashes. Loose cotton clothing helps. Drink lots of water. Give yourself permission to take a sick day if you need one, menopause is rough for many women.

  78. RudeRabbit*

    I try to dress in layers so I can take off the top one when needed. If I get a look I tell them I’m having a “personal summer.” That usually gets folks laughing and eases the situation. Considering all my peers (and boss) are men, and I work in a male-dominated organization, this has worked surprisingly well!

  79. Semiresponsive*

    I’m not at all shy about the hot flashes I’m encountering. I can’t be! I flush so badly that I look like I’m about to ignite. But there are a few men who make blushing comments like I’m such a delicate flower they’ve embarrassed me or something. To those men, I go out of my way to point out that I’m enduring a hot flash and don’t appreciate the tee-hee at my expense.

  80. ManyHats*

    I spend most of my workday by myself in a small room; others seldom need to be in here, so I’m in control of the temp. A few years ago, my boss noticed that I was keeping the room a lot cooler than I used to and asked “is it menopause?” I had no problem with him asking that, but I did get salty (still do) when he and others repeatedly made comments about “how cooooooooold it is in here.” I politely but pointedly told them that they can put on a sweater, but I can’t remove my skin, and they can ask me to talk to them in another room for a moment if they need to. Even though I rarely get hot flashes anymore, I still feel like my interior thermostat is broken, LOL.

  81. Sofia*

    No great advice, just a funny story to add. Awhile back the AC in my office was acting up a bit. For the first few days we all were thinking it was just hot flashes. No one said anything to one other. A much younger colleague who had a few days off comes into the office and commented how warm it was in the office. We all had a laugh when we each admitted we thought it was hot flashes!

  82. tab*

    As a woman in a male dominated field, I just embraced the humor of the situation. If I was having a hot flash in a meeting, I’d ask, “Is it hot in here or am I having a hot flash?” Sometimes it was just a hot room. Other times it was me, and I’d just start fanning myself with whatever paper I had with me.

  83. Paralegal Part Deux*

    I needed this. I just found out that I’m in full blown menopause at in my early 40s and am dealing with severe insomnia and severe mood swings. My doctor diagnosed me through bloodwork (didn’t know there was such a thing) and prescribed 3 types of estrogen for it. It seems to be getting better after I started the hormone replacement therapy. Thankfully, I had an ablation and tubal done, so I don’t have periods anyway. I’m also grateful for no hot flashes. I just occasionally don’t need blankets but definitely not sweating or anything.

    Personally, I just can’t shake this feeling of wanting to rip my boss’s head off at times, and I don’t know what to do with that. I’m usually a lot more even keeled (especially at work), and this is driving me up the wall. It’s all I can do not to snap.

    1. Anonish for this*

      Mindfulness has helped me a lot with this. Step out of the conversation if possible, name what you’re feeling (to yourself, without emotional judgement, just “ok, I am very irritated right now”), deep breath (or 10), then re-engage. This is easiest if you can switch to mostly email communication, which also helps me with brain fog / remembering what I’m doing.

      There are lots of on-line mindfulness tutorials, I like the starting article from, “Five Steps to Mindfulness”, and then there’s tons of guided videos.

  84. Rowan*

    There’s a personal heating/cooling wrist device you can get:
    It looks like a watch, and you can quickly and discreetly flip from nothing to cooling (or to heating, if the AC is cranked up). It’s pricey, though (US$300).

    For night time, you can get a cooling mattress pad: (also pricey)

    My partner swears by both of these for dealing with hot flashes!

  85. christy*

    I totally did this! I was doing a webinar and I had brain fog and just looked straight into the zoom camera and announced “Menopause, people, this is what happens”

  86. smithy*

    If we’re compiling a package of demands, I would like to add Menstrual Sick Days (PTO) to the mix. I’m nowhere near menopause (respect n strength to those who are dealing w it right now) but each month I have at least 1-2 days of menstrual cramps so intense that there’s no way I can get any work done without popping a constant stream of Advil, which in turn carries long-term fertility risks. How am I supposed to reproduce the working class with busted up liver and kidneys and nonfunctional ovaries? If The Man wants me to produce some good little workers for their nefarious deeds they best give me the sick days I need so I can churn them out good and healthy.

    1. Alpaca Bag*

      The struggle is real, and this is very well written. (Sorry that I have only appreciation and no solution for you…)

  87. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    Yet another reason to advocate for remote work! I keep my office pretty cool and no one complains or asks why I’m sitting here with the fan on and a big iced drink when it’s snowing out.

  88. what we do*

    I don’t have anything major to add – but when I went through menopause several years ago a male co-worker (20 years younger) came in to my office as I was fanning myself and asked if I was having a “power surge”. He had experienced his Mother going through the same thing and decided it needed a more flattering description. I loved it! Made the whole thing light hearted and our office pretty much uses that instead of hot flash now.

  89. Hyruseki*

    As someone who’s a few years post-meopausal and still having hot flashes: cooling towels are life-changing. They’re under $10, come in a bunch of colors, and I wear them as a “scarf.” Wet it down with cold water, wring it out so it’s just a bit damp, and it feels like they pull the heat from my neck and shoulders. Then, with a quick shake, they’re cool again! I use them in the office, when I’m hiking, and pretty much everywhere else because they keep me cool without fail. I get very dizzy if I try to push through or ride out a hot flash so they really have been a boon. I highly recommend!

  90. I'm just here for the cats!*

    So I haven’t gone through menopause, but I remember my mom going through it. At the time she worked in housekeeping at a nursing home. Her manager was a man and the rest of the staff were women, and they all took breaks together. Well she had the crazy periods and kept supplies in her car as they didn’t have lockers or anything. she stepped out for just a moment, and it was winter so she had to put her jacket on. She smokes. On her way in the boss cornered her and got all up in her face yelling “It’s not break time, you can’t go out and have a smoke break just whenever” all that macho “i’m the boss” stuff. Well she whips out the pad stuffs it in his face and says “I wasn’t smoking I went out to get THIS! I just got my period is that a problem for you?” She says she never saw a man shrink away and get so embarrassed in his life. His face was so red and he muttered and ran away. She said he never questioned her or any of the other staff members again.

    So I would say if you have a coworker or boss that gets all up in your face about using the bathroom or something, just push a pad in his face and say “do you mind?”

  91. Gquaker*

    I found Dr. Jen Gunter’s book “The Menopause Manifesto” to be helpful. She also shares practical menopause tips and information on her Instagram account. She’s an actual doctor (not an internet-certified health and wellness coach).

    Also shouting out younger women and non-binary people who are experiencing menopause-like symptoms from medications. I really don’t appreciate office conversations that promote ‘hormone balancing’ teas, topical CBD, and other schemes when there are evidence-based interventions like HRT and mindfulness.

    1. allathian*

      HRT is not an option for everyone, and mindfulness is the current fad. I don’t even have diagnosed anxiety, but I’ve tried mindfulness a couple of times during training days at work, and both times I nearly had a panic attack as a result. Now I just don’t participate.

      I hate it that mindfulness is currently being pushed as the cure-all for everything from burnout to menopause.

      And isn’t HRT contraindicated anyway when you’re trying to stop the estrogen cycle with T?

  92. Anonomatopoeia*

    At a quick glance through the comments, I feel like there’s a fair amount of banging heads between the notion that none of this nonsense our bodies do in the 15 years* surrounding the point at which periods stop should be shameful and the reality that acknowledging the nonsense can, in some workplaces, create career threat/obnoxious treatment when we plan to keep working for another 25 year or whatever. I think both those points are super valid, but what I want to talk about is how we can start to move that needle so that we can bridge that gap.

    I tell the people who work for me, most of whom are young, that they get to have bodies, and that bodies sometimes do inconvenient behaviors like bleed, snot, cry, sweat, or faint and that it’s appropriate to determine this is not a day that work can happen. I try to do this in onboarding in a way that is not actually about anyone feeling crummy right now, but just as a thing that will sometimes come up, and then to reinforce throughout employment with later behavior on my part. So for example, this starts part of the same conversation where we talk about healthy breaks, work/life boundaries, calling in sick, etc, and we say, look, many people have GI issues, or menstrual issues, or neurological issues (so, this is covers things like Crohn’s, periods, and migraines) and sometimes there are says where you have something like that going on and you can’t work so you call in sick, and sometimes you can work, but you might need a little more support. It’s okay to tell us where you are. Reinforcement is found in how we respond to sick calls or to people showing up obviously feeling like utter garbage and we say gosh are you okay to be here? Would you like to clock out and go lie down in the back for half and hour and reassess? Or to situations where we ourselves need to make ourselves present while we feel like poo and we say hey I’m here because I’m the only one that can do this time-sensitive thing, but I am going very much back to bed no later than an hour from now. We talk about what it looks like to bring our best selves to work, and how we can decide what details to share but that it’s okay to be like, y’all I am not necessarily sick but I am on the struggle bus today, or, dang I felt lousy yesterday and maybe I should have stayed home, so here’s what I remember I said I would do, does that match your recollection?

    Basically I want the young women AND young men who work for me to come away from this job and go to their next one with the attitude that sometimes they or their peers will have body-related infirmities, and this is just part of the human condition, shrug, and not think it’s a huge bad deal. I want to model that this can be how a workplace just is, and I mean, I know they might get to the next workplace and it’s shitty, but now they know if can be fine and maybe they take those values and bring their talents to places that comport.

    So, OP, I guess what I’m saying is, can you try to move this needle a little in ways that are not about your own body doing body things? Can you work to create space in which you know you and your colleagues can say today is a struggle day, and know you will support each other? Maybe not, but maybe so.

    *no seriously. I’m in my 50s. I still am technically not menopausal because every oh 3 to 10 months my body is all ‘hey let’s bleed for a couple of days,’ and the definition of menopause is a whole year without a period, but the berserk period behaviors and weird sudden temperature shifts have been going on since before I turned forty. I could do without this aspect of having a body.

  93. Desdemona*

    In my 30’s and have been going through premature perimenopause. Hi, friend.

    Menopause is already taboo, but at my age it’s super unusual and invites an even longer/ more in-depth conversation about medical issues that I’d rather not get into. So I don’t really hide it (especially around women Of A Certain Age) but wouldn’t ever discuss it in a larger/ mixed group.

    Hot flashes: I wear a gazillion layers.
    Sleep: Sometimes I have to sleep 10 hours a night to feel rested. I have horrible insomnia some nights. It sucks. Mostly I try to just accept it as what it is and be ok with going to bed at 8pm if I’m tired.

    1. Rainy Cumbria*

      Absolutely, going through it a little earlier than usual (I’m 40) is especially isolating.

      1. kicking_k*

        I was 37 when the nonsense started and am feeling grateful that whatever happens, I’m now old enough that I don’t have to call it “premature ovarian failure”. But if I get to actual menopause at the age my mum did, I’ll have had a decade and a half of peri… I don’t fancy that.

    2. Pobody's Nerfect*

      Menopause is no longer taboo. As evidenced by this post and so many comments by those who feel free to speak freely, and by the explosion of information and blogs and podcasts and publicity being given to it these days. Which is a good thing. The sooner we stop saying it’s taboo, maybe it will start being true.

  94. Anonish for this*

    I have been dealing with this for the last 18mo, so about 8mo into the pandemic. Possibly TMI, but I wish someone had told me all of the below at least two years ago.

    Symptoms include hot flashes (mostly evenings), bonkers periods, brain fog, an increase in sleep apnea leading to sleepiness, and intense arousal.

    – Working from home makes everything easier, even if it’s just a day or two a week.
    – Hot flashes: neck cooling wraps. I found some on Etsy that can pass as business casual scarves with a button-down collar (SewUsefulByKara), but I think there are also wrist wraps.
    – Bonkers periods: The biggest, heaviest overnight pads, and change every hour on the worst days (I sometimes use a reminder alarm). Adult diapers did not work. Liners most days, just in case. Consider keeping a change of pants at the office.
    – Brain fog: WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. I still don’t have a perfect system, but writing everything in a to-do list or daily planner style has been a huge help. Also: look up ADHD planning help to see what ideas work for you. Invest the time to plan, it makes executing so much easier.
    – Brain fog: Pad your time estimates by 20% or more. This gives you the time for planning, and to focus / regain focus / process incoming information.
    – Brain fog: Pause before you speak in meetings / write the email, maybe even check that you’re answering the right question.
    – Brain fog: Plan your career moves knowing you are not at your best. My last job was going overseas, I was going to learn Python and become a data scientist! A year later, I had spent ten hours on Python and retained almost nothing, so I took a lateral move into a field more closely related to my last position. No pay raise, but a job I can actually do without having to learn big new concepts.
    – Sleepiness: Mini-naps, esp caffeine-naps (drink a coffee / tea, rest your eyes for 15 minutes).
    – Arousal: That has been the hardest one. I have never had to deal with so much, not even in my teens. Mindfulness was the biggest help in keeping focus: “Yes, that’s a feeling that I am feeling. Deep breath, back to task.” That doesn’t help much with sleepiness, but it might help if you also get sadness or other emotional variations as part of the hormone swings.

    Overall, be kind to yourself. This stuff is real, you don’t control it. Tell your at-home support system, but I have not told anyone at work, not even my best gal pal. TMI, and everyone’s experience is going to be different. I wouldn’t want anyone else to be judged by my behavior / recent work product. If I had to talk about it, I would just say that I was dealing with a medical issue, and maybe refer to the apnea.

    The brain fog and arousal have both gotten better in the last few months, though the apnea has gotten worse.

  95. Harper*

    Can I just say that I really appreciate this comment thread? I’m going to come back and read more when I have time. I am 45, definitely in peri-menopause and maybe full-blown menopause due to endometriosis (waiting to confirm). I also happen to be working through PTSD, and the brain fog between the two is so ridiculous that sometimes I can barely function. I have a few “super star” days a month, surrounded by a lot of “can barely remember my own name” days. This is a really sucky part of this stage in life that should be talked about more. I already feel like men have a huge advantage over women in the workplace because many men carry such a small percentage of the mental load at home. I’m in awe of how the men around me can remember every conversation, complex project details, dates, times, etc. Female brains are maxed out on details, and foggy on top of it. Not fair.

    I have concluded that wearing a very lightweight, short-sleeved shirt under a lightweight cardigan will probably be my uniform this winter. Last year I gave up on any kind of sweater, sweatshirt, or long-sleeved top. 3/4 sleeves is the most I wear in the dead of winter. I have a powerful fan on my desk. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by middle-aged women at work who don’t fuss about the thermostat being turned way down year-round.

  96. Cinderblock*

    My gyn prescribed weekly estrogen patches for me, which has helped a lot. But they don’t stay stuck for one day, let alone seven! I have to cover them with sheets of Tegaderm so they’ll stay put.

  97. A Pound of Obscure*

    I’ve been there. Still dealing with minor, manageable symptoms 5 years later. But for the beginning stages: If you have ever thought or wondered whether you should cut back on carbs/processed foods/sugar, NOW IS THE TIME. Keeping your insulin levels in check is huge, and carbs / junk foods are the things that spike it. Many women self-report having fewer hot flashes after making that commitment to their own health. Alcohol is another common trigger for hot flashes. Also, having plenty of natural fats is very important for hormonal regulation (and please know that “vegetable oils” are not natural fats and are highly inflammatory). Getting enough real, absorbable, complete protein also is critical for bone health and maintaining muscle mass in women our age.

  98. Hey now*

    I don’t know if it’s okay to list medicines, but I’ve been using Amberen. It’s helped cut down on my night sweats.

  99. Miss Kat*

    When I first started my current job I was (am) one of 3 older women in my office (I just turned 55 2 weeks ago). I had just started menopause, and it drove me crazy with the hot and cold flashes. My office is very (very) casual so I wore nice tank tops under a sweater. Then it was sweater on/sweater off… rinse and repeat constantly throughout the day. No one thought anything of it. My boss is a few years younger than me and she’s going through the same thing. We’ve had some pretty good laughs about it. Then Covid hit and I’ve been home ever since. My period stopped sometime during Covid. One day it was just gone. Being at home makes it so much easier to deal with the hot flashes.

  100. Ms. Dribblington*

    Now that I am over 50, my very heavy period sometimes comes every two weeks, and with incapacitating cramps that make me vomit! I starting using a menstrual cup over a decade ago, and I recommend the cup for anyone dealing with heavy periods. A cup will last for years. Also, I finally learned that a high dose of ibuprofen (800 mg every 6 hours for me) will significantly reduce the blood flow and alleviate the cramps. It truly does make your period lighter.

    I have brain fog and memory problems. It makes me feel like I lost 30 IQ points – like I am different person. I don’t recognize myself sometimes. These symptoms are incredibly disturbing to me. I am normally capable of extreme focus, like hyper focus, and I always had a great short term memory. But now I feel like a gibbering idiot sometimes. I try to cut myself some slack. It’s frustrating. I appreciate everyone’s comments on this subject.

  101. Tullina*

    A low dose of citalopram (20mg) which I was taking for anxiety really helped keep hot flashes under control. If you google ‘citalopram hot flashes’ you can find out more.

  102. Happily Retired*

    We had granite countertops in our office and I would just lay my forehead or the side of my face on the granite. Sounds stupid but I swear it worked like magic when I was “broiling”. No one cared. You could get a granite scrap for you desk.

  103. Antigone*

    The direct management of my team is all menopause-age cis women, most of the staff are younger women, and it’s been amazing for me to see how easily this got normalized in our office. A quick request to turn on a fan because my boss has a hot flash is no more remarkable in our office than a request to keep the lights a little low because I’m battling a migraine, and I love that. It’s the first time I’ve been around women who spoke about menopause at all and it’s made it so much less scary seeming to me!

    But I would bet cash money they don’t make the same requests in meetings with their cis male bosses. Normalizing only carries you so far.

  104. Miche*

    Here’s practical advice:
    1 Wear layers so you can remove clothes when hot.
    2 Keep cold drinks at your desk at work and bedside at night.
    If you’re lucky, you’ll start to recognize the warning signs of a hot flash so that drinking something cold and taking off a layer (or removing a blanket) can stop the worst sweating.
    3 Know that the lack of sleep causes most memory problems. Once you start sleeping well again, you’ll feel “normal” again.
    4 If you can’t open a window at work in the winter, ask to lower the thermostat about 2 degrees. Some employers may like saving money this way.

  105. LMW*

    This is nothing, I work with a 22-year-old who changes her email signature monthly to say “Currently menstruating”.

  106. Menopause Sister*

    Hold on while I dig out the small fan I keep in my purse. The hot flash is coming on. Do what makes you feel most comfortable. There’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about (I’m not suggesting you are), though many people will try to make you feel that way because *they’re* uncomfortable. It’s not like we have any control over it. Me? I make a joke about it. It’s not hard to notice when I have sweat beading up on my face. Sometimes I still my head out of the window in my office in dramatic fashion. As for some of the other symptoms…well, I’m naturally anxious and ultra focused, which causes some general brain fog. Nothing different there for me. I also talked to my doctor. He prescribed gabapentin, which has been a lifesaver for me. It’s greatly reduced the number of hot flashes, and I can get some sleep at night. Meds aren’t for everyone, and there’s lots of natural options, too. Seriously though, carry a small fan in your purse. Here’s the one I have: (Idk if that’s allowed, Allison. Apologies if sharing links is not).

  107. CB*

    I work in a male dominated field where I am often the oldest person in the room and the only woman. When I hit menopause and had hot flashes every 30 minutes or so, I went stretto the doc and got on HRT patches, stopped them cold along with the other symptoms. But… it bothers me that I felt like I had to do that.

  108. Rainy Cumbria*

    Hi all, OP here! I’ve loved reading through all the comments this morning. As a couple of people have mentioned, it’s a really important conversation to have, and it’s great to see people supporting each other.

    I personally have mentioned it to my supervisor a couple of times, in a low key way rather than anything formal. I told her that I have hot flushes occasionally so she knows what’s going on if I strip off layers or have to open the window.

    More recently, my work has set up a staff menopause network. It’s a group on Teams where we can talk about feelings and experiences, and share webinars and other events (all much more helpful than the EAP talk from my previous employer). It’s helpful to know that I’m not the only person at my work going through this, and everyone is so supportive. If you can set something like this up, I’d strongly recommend it.

    Other things I’ve found helpful:
    – Wearing layers, and natural fibres, particularly bamboo.
    – Magnesium supplements seem to help with sleep problems, I’ve heard they’re also useful for muscle twitches and cramps.
    – For brain fog, lists and reminders are my friends. I have ADHD so I already rely on these, I’ve just had to ramp them up a little.
    – Finally, if you haven’t already, I recommend visiting your doctor if you can. This is particularly important if you’re experiencing symptoms younger than expected, so they can rule out other causes. Experiences can vary, but they should be able to give you different treatment options.

      1. Rainy Cumbria*

        Actually I’ve not had a night sweat in a while, I hadn’t made that connection. Thank you.

    1. Pobody's Nerfect*

      A few days ago I saw an article about a workplace survey that polled employee interest in various workplace benefits. At the very top of the list over all other possible workplace benefits, was “Menopause Leave” at a whopping 1,300% (!) increased employee interest. The next closest one was “Hybrid Working” at 820%. I agree that Menopause/Menstrual Leave is a workplace benefit that should be discussed and implemented widely – and should be separate from regular sick leave or other PTO policies.

  109. Taking the long way round*

    On YouTube, 18th October, 11.00am UK time the Royal Village Hall (whose channel is absolute excellent by the way) is doing an interactive Q & A with Dr Hilary a menopause specialist, for World Menopause Day, FYI. But of course you can watch it later if you need to, you just won’t be able to participate.

  110. it's me*

    Great comments; helped me put a few things together. I wasn’t sure if my brain fog was pandemic-related, side effects of Lexapro, or what; knowing it might have to do with possible perimenopause is a helpful data point.

  111. j.s.*

    just a note — i know it’s super common phrasing now, but many ppl don’t know that “afab” and “amab” are actually harmful misappropriations of outdated acts of malpractice against people with disorders of sexual development, where surgeons decided how they wanted ambiguous external genitalia on a baby with a DSD to look — and it was inaccurate in those cases as well! no doctors or nurses are “assigning” femaleness or maleness on anyone at birth :)

  112. I Hate It Here*

    I’ve let people know what’s going on. It’s not like I can hide the sweat dripping down my face for no reason at random moments. LOL

    I’ve been dealing with peri-menopause for a few years now. I have a small usb powered fan on my desk (it’s currently blowing directly in my face right now). A damp paper towel on the back of the neck can help. Short sleeves year round. Ice cold drinks. I use a TAL brand cup. They are insulated and with some ice keep a drink cold for hours. Even if you refill the liquid.

    I’ve found that edibles make me sleepy. They are legal where I am and help with the sleep disruptions that come from peri-menopause. At night there is at least one window open in my bedroom all night. Spring/Summer it’s every window. Fans in the windows, small usb powered fan on night table and one of those arctic air pure chill things on the other night table. Fill it with ice and water. Wet the filter, freeze it then use it frozen.

    I’ve got no help for the brain fog. Other than don’t beat yourself up over it. There is nothing to you can do to prevent peri-menopause or menopause. They are going to happen no matter what. Deal with what you can.

    1. I Hate It Here*

      Also: Antiperspirant . Under boob sweat is a thing and gets worse with hot flashes. Put some under the girls at night before bed.

      Lists for everything might help with the brain fog.

  113. Pobody's Nerfect*

    A few days ago I saw an article about a workplace survey that polled employee interest in various workplace benefits. At the very top of the list over all other possible workplace benefits, was “Menopause Leave” at a whopping 1,300% (!) increased employee interest. The next closest one was “Hybrid Working” at 820%. I agree that Menopause/Menstrual Leave is a workplace benefit that should be discussed and implemented widely – and should be separate from regular sick leave or other PTO policies.

  114. Advenella*

    I am in my early-to-mid 40s and I am so grateful for this thread – I’m already having some symptoms at this age, and have for a couple of years. My workspace doesn’t lend well to fans and the like (hospital lab, no fans allowed) but you’ve all shared some great ideas, and I plan to reach out to my PCM to set up another evaluation soon.

  115. cityMouse*

    I work in live theatre/performing arts, and I’m on year…. 12 of hot flashes. I get them like clockwork every night from 8-10 pm… which is when most shows happen. Last night I had to wear a full suit for a show and I was dying. But, I have embraced face masks – no one questions when you wear one now, or at least not in my work experience – and I find it seems to hide my misery, so to speak. I hate the “flopsweat” though, and summers are unbearable for me now. I gave up wearing any makeup – between glasses and a mask, I feel fairly invisible – and just use a cold wet cloth on my face when I have bathroom breaks. It helps that I’m backstage, so we’re kind of invisible anyway. I guess I’m used to it? But sometimes it’s fairly awful, especially when you add a headset and a headlamp. Bleh.

    I do hate and fear the brain fog, though.

    I’ve never had anyone say anything more than “Are you ok,” though, and I just reassure them I’m just hot. Whenever possible I set up a small fan to sit in front of, it helps a ton.

    Anyone else here work in live events?

  116. Sick of It*

    A comment I haven’t seen in the other 400+ comments so far:

    I’m in the Csuite going through this and the brain fog is the worst. Like many mothers, I have a full plate at home. This is the time to get some help at home: lawn care, house cleaning, meal kits, etc. as one can afford. Packing my lunches and organizing my clothes for the week ahead. Anything to “save” my brain power for work. The more distractions I can eliminate, the better I seem to do.

    I shouldn’t have to abandon my long and hard earned career ( for what I hope is) a short blip.

  117. AbleniceCat*

    I decided after so many discreet coffee-pot conversations, with many co-workers, that we need all get together. It is great media have picked up and making more noise, highlighting the impacts of peri but in the work environment it is really still a taboo subject. Line Managers like mine keeps blaming the perimenopause for all the women that work for him- making a joke of it. Frustrating since 60% of our women workforce are at the age, and some are suffering in silence, partner, doctor not the sympathetic ear you need. Impacting their day-to-day life, work life.

    So, I suggested that we will all get together, lean on each other, support each other, it was warmly received. We will meet once month we decided to call it the ” Once-a-Month Meeting”. I am waiting for HR to give us business hours to meet, rather than our own time.

  118. Tell it like it is*

    You SHOULD just announce it. I decided to be open about what I’m going through, and it frankly has served me better than trying to pretend nothing is wrong. If I’m talking and I get a hot flash I break out my fan and say “ugh, hot flashes”. If I’m not the center of attention I don’t bring it up. My team is aware, I let them know some days I’m reactive and why, but I’ll always circle back and rephrase if I’ve been snappy, they know I’m human and not just a irritated boss/coworker. I brought it up at a team meeting when we were in the “what challenges are facing the team this week” part of the meeting. I just said it was really making things hard in xyz ways including sleep disruption and I was still in the figuring it out. I found the more I mentioned it, the more other women of a certain age brought up that just didn’t feel like themselves and they wish they had known or someone had told them this was normal, and they were not going crazy.

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