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Your Team Is Lost In (Pre)Menopausal Translation – What Now?

Dr. Zrinka is a recognised expert in corporate health management, leadership advisory, and personal change. She foundend Mind & Body Empowerment Coaching, a life-cycle and change-oriented coaching method designed to enhance mental, physical and emotional resilience. She focuses also on team development, fostering cohesive and high-performing teams.

 
Executive Contributor Dr. Zrinka K. Fidermuc Maler

Do you notice changes in your female colleagues over 40, who once exhibited significant expertise and efficiency, now appearing more tired, edgy, and impatient? Are their sick notes more frequent, and their tone more aggressive, creating a negative atmosphere in the workplace?


Menopausal mature woman sitting on sofa in the living room at home having a hot flash and using fan

Pre-, peri-, and menopausal symptoms affect every woman over 40, from cleaning staff to CEOs. This impacts half of today's workforce.

 

Here's the good news: Menopause is a natural process, and it is becoming less of a taboo topic. However, there's still work to be done to better understand and support this segment of your workforce. By doing so, you can transform the work culture, leading to a thriving, rather than suffering, team.

 

In this article, discover practical tips for team leaders, HR managers, and CEOs to understand the natural physiological changes in female bodies. Learn how to leverage these insights to create an open and supportive workplace culture where stereotypes dissolve and teams excel.

 

You'll gain two perspectives on the issue and actionable strategies to start implementing.

 

What is premenopause?

Premenopause, perimenopause, and menopause encompass nearly two decades during which a woman's body decreases the production of reproductive hormones, estrogen, and progesterone, transitioning out of its reproductive role.


During these stages, hormone levels drop to insufficient levels, directly impacting overall women's health. Many serious future illnesses begin to take root during this time unless preventive measures are taken. The reproductive function of the female body gradually ends, but these hormones also play vital roles in other bodily functions, including brain function. Reproduction is just one of the tasks nature assigned to a younger age.

 

Understanding and addressing these changes can significantly improve the work environment and overall team performance.

 

18 common symptoms of premenopause and their impact

If you ask a woman in her late 30s or early 40s if she feels premenopausal, it's rare to hear a "yes." Most women don’t recognise premenopausal symptoms, at least not in a way that links them to the onset of menopause.

 

The typical assumption about premenopausal symptoms involves hot flashes and sweating. However, the natural phenomenon of (peri)menopause is more complex. Additionally, many women do not experience hot flashes or sweating at all. To better understand the hormonal changes, it's important to know the 18 most common premenopausal symptoms.

 

Mental / Psychological symptoms:

 

1. Depression

2. Development or increase of fears, tantrums, or severe emotional swings, mainly negative

3. Difficulty thinking and remembering (brain fog).

 

Physical symptoms:


4. Sleep disorders

5. Migraines

6. Dizziness

7. Tinnitus

8. Hot flashes and night sweats

9. Joint and muscle pain

10. PMS

11. Light, heavy, irregular, or normal periods

12. Hair loss

13. Itchy skin, neurodermatitis, eczema

14. Cardiac arrhythmia

15. Frequent bladder infections

16. Frequent urge to urinate, even incontinence

17. Weight gain, especially around the stomach

18. Lack of desire for intimacy.

 

Long-term health implications

The most severe illnesses that develop later are often a direct consequence of decades of insufficient hormone supply:

 

  • Cardiovascular disease (due to declining estrogen levels), including cardiac arrhythmias

  • Higher stroke risk 

  • Dementia 

  • Osteoporosis

  • Urinary incontinence 

  • Atrophy of sexual organs.

 

As a business and personality empowerment coach with over two decades of experience in human mind, body, and spirit development, I can confidently say that no executive or team member can isolate their rational mind from their emotional one. It is crucial to understand that the mind, body, and soul are inextricably intertwined, affecting each other for better or worse. These symptoms can exacerbate a woman’s condition, impacting her overall well-being.

 

What’s a male leader got to do with it?

As a male leader or manager, you might initially think, “What does this have to do with me?” However, consider the direct implications of certain symptoms on the performance of your team members, both male and female.

 

A likely scenario

Imagine this scenario: Your diverse team, consisting of both male and female colleagues, is engaged in a complex, long-term negotiation process. In a large conference room, it’s your turn to present the offer. Your female colleague, Eve, is an exceptional negotiator and lawyer with significant industry expertise. She usually demonstrates patience, strength, and assertiveness. Today, she must negotiate multiple issues to create greater value for the customer and secure a higher price, but the other party has already anchored the price.

 

Eve, typically composed and confident, suddenly experiences intense hot flashes. Her face turns red, sweat drips down her temples, and large wet circles appear under her armpits on her elegant silk blouse. Her voice starts to crack, and the room falls into an uncomfortable silence.

 

Let’s press the pause button right here!

 

Consider the emotions that might arise in this situation, both as a leader and from Eve’s perspective. Disappointment, uncertainty, perplexity, anger, fear of losing the deal, or even your job—these emotions can create immense stress.

 

A wave of emotions will affect everyone. If your team is unprepared, this event could significantly impact future performance.

 

Integrating menopausal health into workplace culture

In the following chapters, I will explain the functions of hormones and provide (00)7 tips for integrating premenopausal, perimenopausal, and menopausal health into your company's overall health management framework.

 

Additionally, I will suggest ways to foster a company culture of openness, trust, and support. Creating a safe space for traditionally sensitive issues, such as menopause, can help eliminate damaging stereotypes - like the misconceptions that menopausal women are old or unattractive.


By addressing these issues, you can ensure a supportive work environment that enhances team performance and overall workplace well-being.

 

Women think, hormones lead, and men are perplexed

Understanding Hormonal Transitions: The Real Impact on Women.

 

Do you remember the commercial, “You’re not you when you’re hungry”? This successful advertisement by a retail giant for an unhealthy sweet bar depicts a hungry person transforming into a nasty monster. Only after consuming the bar does the person return to their normal self.

 

During hormonal transitions, the rollercoaster of hunger can turn a woman into a “fridge monster,” only to make her run 10 km in remorse at 6 a.m. the next day. Or it drives her to perform an intense leg workout, leaving her sore and making “uh-ah” noises for seven consecutive days.


The consequence of this cycle is that you stop training, your fridge monster’s appetite grows, your metabolism slows down, and before you know it, you’re facing a premature heart attack by the sight of the scale. Additionally, mild depression attacks visit more frequently than you can handle. This is the vicious circle at its worst.

 

Breaking the vicious circle

Enough of that! Here’s what you need to know: most of the control is in your hands!

 

A classical medical approach by a gynaecologist often doesn’t solve the complex problem of hormonal insufficiency. The issue is frequently dismissed with a quick standard exam and a sentence like, “Ma’am, you have to go through it because it’s natural.” Some doctors might prescribe vitamins, minerals, or hormone-like pills to alleviate hot flashes and insomnia. However, my personal interest in this issue led me to study books and scientific papers that clearly show there is much more help available—it is cheaper and more accessible than most women realise.

 

So, yes, please take the time to learn and grow. By understanding and managing these transitions, you can break the vicious circle and regain control over your health and well-being.

 

Your way out: The know-how and the how-to


The know-how

Understanding hormonal changes in women: from premenopause to menopause

 

Starting in their late 30s, women begin to experience premenopausal changes. These gradual shifts affect the body on multiple levels, often going unnoticed. The thought of entering this stage feels distant, and many women dismiss it easily. I understand—I’ve been there too!

 

By their mid-40s, women enter perimenopause, derived from the Greek word “peri,” meaning before, around, or out. This phase, often misunderstood and stigmatised, is the actual period commonly referred to as menopause. It’s time to change your perspective on this natural stage of life.

 

Once a woman’s period has been absent for 1-2 years, she has officially entered menopause. The age at which this occurs varies greatly, as it is unique to each individual.

 

In the following sections, I will highlight the key hormonal functions that are particularly relevant in a business context, acknowledging their numerous additional roles.

 

The three key hormones

The female body is constantly regulated by three “partner hormones” that support and guide it. These essential hormones are:

 

  1. Estrogens: A family of estrogens including: 17-β-estradiol, estrone, and estriol

  2. Progesterone

  3. Testosterone (yes, really!)

 

Functions of estrogen (17-β-estradiol)

 

  • Cardiovascular protection: Protects the cardiovascular system.

  • Cognitive functions and mood regulation: Influences neurotransmitter systems, affecting memory, learning, and emotional stability.

  • Joint and muscle health: Prevents joint and muscle pain and stiffness.

  • Skin health: Maintains skin elasticity and hydration.

  • Energy regulation: Helps regulate energy levels and overall vitality.

  • Metabolism: Impacts metabolism and body fat distribution, contributing to a healthy body composition.

  • Bone density: Helps maintain bone density and prevent fractures.

 

Functions of progesterone

 

  • Water regulation: Helps release excess water from the body.

  • Neuroprotection: Activates GABA receptors in the brain, relaxing the nervous system and promoting serenity. However, too much progesterone can lead to social withdrawal and brooding, while too little can cause depression, anxiety, and emotional instability.

  • Sleep and relaxation: Ensures good sleep and relaxation.

 

Functions of testosterone (yes, really!)

Though often attributed to men, women also produce testosterone, just in smaller amounts. Its functions include:

 

  • Drive and motivation: Ensures drive, motivation, and ambition.

  • Muscle mass: Builds muscle mass.

  • Hair growth: Stimulates hair growth.

 

By understanding these hormonal changes, you can better navigate the stages of premenopause, perimenopause, and menopause, ensuring a balanced and healthy life both personally and professionally.


Sharing the responsibility


1. The (00)7 step-list on how-to for women

The biggest challenge is to anchor the thought that almost everything is in your hands and that it is your responsibility to make it work for you.


Finally, you are here to lead a good and joyful life, to thrive and prosper despite the downs and problems that are here only to teach us something so we can – thrive, experience and create.

 

Firstly, observe your symptoms and problems that might arise in your daily life such as poor sleep, irritability, brain fog and many more mentioned already in the beginning of this text. Realise and accept that you are in the transition years. This realisation is your first and the most important step. Every single pre-, peri- and menopausal body is in its natural state. Since the nature never does anything without a purpose, you will understand that premenopause and menopause are essential phases in your life. Nothing is ever static, just maybe not visible immediately. The nature changes all the time, so do you as a part of it.


Once you accept this, it is easier to navigate and find the best way of coping with the changes for yourself.

 

The acceptance will also lead you to more hunger for knowledge and that will empower you to take the full responsibility for your own health. You will not passively wait until a doctor says something or things go wrong professionally or privately.

 

What helps in the short and long term? You might already have suspected. The magic words are: nutrition and exercise. But they alone are not enough.


Here is your (00)7 step-list

 

1. Nutrition: A balanced diet rich in phytoestrogens (flaxseeds, soy, legumes), healthy fats (omega-3 from fish, nuts, seeds), and whole grains helps balance hormones. Avoid processed foods and excessive sugar.

 

2. Exercise: Regular physical activity, including strength and weight training, yoga, Pilates and cardiovascular exercises, helps manage weight, mood, and overall health. Consistency is the key! Do rather consistently 20-30 minutes every working day and an hour on weekends than to work out once a week for two hours. The motivation will be difficult and the sore muscle feeling days after the workout will block your consistent action. Also include regular walks outside.


Harvard Medical School recommends a minimum of 2.5 hours a week, which is a minimum of 21 minutes of a fast paced walk every day.

 

3. Sleep: No and no. The sleep is definitely not overrated. Each day there is more scientific evidence that „a sleep shortfall interferes with the normal function of the brain's housecleaning system, termed the glymphatic system. In the deepest sleep phases, cerebrospinal fluid rushes through the brain, sweeping away beta-amyloid protein linked to brain cell damage. Without a good night's sleep, this housecleaning process is less thorough, allowing the protein to accumulate — and inflammation to develop. Then, a vicious cycle sets in. Beta-amyloid buildup in the brain's frontal lobe starts to impair deeper, non-REM slow-wave sleep. This damage makes it harder to sleep, to retain and consolidate memories.“ (Harvard Medical Health)

 

So prioritise sleep hygiene before Netflix and other bing watching temptations. Aim for 7 - 8 hours of quality sleep per night and lastly, establish a calming bedtime routine.

 

4. Stress management: Incorporate stress-reducing practices like meditation, deep breathing exercises, but take a bird’s eye view on your life-concept and identify improvement areas. Maybe you start playing that piano again or see more of your friends or do something else that makes you feeling really good.

 

5. Social support network: Human beings need other human beings. Otherwise they die. If you haven’t had energy or interest in people lately and you were only with your book under the cosy blanked, get yourself going. Because social isolation stimulates more illnesses and makes you feel very negatively. So engage with friends, support groups, or counseling to share experiences, gain emotional support and elaborate strategies to cope with the existing challenges.

 

6. Medical support: Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider are always a good advice. For most women a hormone therapy with bioidentical hormones (not some hormone-like mixtures!) is very helpful.


But there is just one golden window of opportunity that women without a medical condition (like breast cancer, cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, diabetes etc.) can use. That window is open from the start of the perimenopausal symptoms until at latest ten years after the last period. The new research findings showed many long term benefits of supplementing the fading hormones. But the research showed also that only the bioidentical hormones have that effect and should be taken as pure hormones and not as mixtures. I.e. pure micronised progesterone as a pill, ß-oestrogen in cream (has less negative effects for the liver) and estriol also as a cream. That medicine contains nothing else but the pure hormone. The name of the hormone should be clearly visible on the package and standing alone. Should you need progesterone, then on the package stands only and exactly that name „progesterone“ as an ingredient nothing else. All over the EU you can get those hormones only by prescription. All other products on the market one can buy without the prescription have not enough of what your body needs.*

 

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not a medical advice. The information provided cannot replace a specialised practitioner in human medicine. My suggestions are intended to help you search more easily for a specialised gynaecologist and to not spend a lot of money on alternative products that promise a lot but don’t help your body the way it needs it.

 

Sharing the responsibility


2. The (00)7 step-list on how-to for leaders and HR managers

It is very easy to fall into the trap called stereotyping. We witness a fast paced both work and private life and oftentimes we fall short questioning our assumptions and habitual thinking. It is easy to think and act like the old proverb goes: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”


If we think about it more thoroughly we will understand that we can change that for the betterment of every team member and the company itself.

 

Fact is that well over a half of the labor force in the US and over 65 percent in the EU are women. With a growing problem of the lack of the labor force, it would be irresponsible and unimaginable to ignore and make the work life of women after forty an unnecessary struggle. We witness many women being degraded, forced to part-time jobs, fired or forced to leave because they had to cope with their own health issues directly linked to the natural hormonal changes. CNN conducted a series of interview about that.

 

Frankly, women after forty and beyond fifty bring not only a specific knowledge in an area but most of all the experience, wisdom and the knowledge of human behaviour. Younger women may even be more knowledgeable in let’s say the new digital areas but they will most certainly lack the rest. Junior work force is necessary but is – junior. With all due respect to many excellent universities and curricula young people go through, in the majority of cases a degree cannot replace the above stated.

 

As a leader or HR manager, it is essential to recognise that change takes time and may face resistance. Adopting a holistic approach, emphasize that supporting women's health during menopause is integral to fostering an inclusive and diverse workplace. By ensuring all team members receive the support they need to succeed, you will enhance engagement and loyalty to the company.

 

Here is the (00)7 step-list for leaders

 

1. Raise awareness and empower by educating

Empower employees by providing and sharing the knowledge about the issue by an entertaining expert who can tell good stories. Men and women will be listen carefully. My experience showed that many men suffered because they didn’t know and understand the implications of the hormonal changes that occur in the bodies of their female colleagues.

 

2. Make transparent and open communication

Find a way to transparently communicate the issue within the company and different teams. Promote open communication and dialogue as a leader and/or HR manager.

 

3. Setting

Firstly, set it as a part of health management measures your company has.


Secondly, anchor the topic – the premenopausal and menopausal health of women – as an integral part of your open work culture.


Thirdly, make it a part of the strategy to retain women in the leadership pipeline. Many companies aspire to have more women leaders and should therefore take into account that perimenopause and menopause comes at a time when women are at the crossroad in their careers, when they ascend into leadership roles.

 

4. Trainings for the leaders and/or HR managers

Should an employee choose to disclose that they are struggling with menopausal symptoms, the leader should be able to have a conversation that is culturally competent without making fun of it. Stereotypes, bad jokes and assumptions can acerbate the relations. Additionally, you can learn how to offer individual support by conducting regular check-ins to review progress, address concerns, and make necessary adjustments.

 

5. Long-term investment in employee retention and corporate responsibility

Show that supporting team members during menopause is part of a long-term employee retention strategy. By creating a supportive work environment that considers the needs of all employees, you can strengthen employee retention and reduce turnover. More over, by offering support for women in menopause, you not only fulfil your legal obligations but also demonstrate your social responsibility as a company.

 

6. Safe space, supportive environment and team performance

Create an environment where team members feel safe and comfortable discussing their needs and challenges. Encourage open conversations about how menopause impacts work and the overall team performance. Eventually, everybody will suffer if the issue is being swept under the rug and encountered with prejudice or ignorance.

 

7. Create flexible working conditions and work space

Advocate for flexible work arrangements and organise small rooms for a brief retreat. Hot flashes, sweating, sudden high blood pressure oftentimes they disappear in just 15–-20 minutes. In that sudden moment it is often necessary to lay down and just relax for a short time. An open space working environment doesn’t offer that. So make sure the company organises that little space for a retreat.

 

Empowering change: rethinking menopause in the workplace

My greatest intention with this executive contribution is to encourage both men and women to change their perspectives on menopause, act upon it, and create a more prosperous, efficient, and joyful working environment for everyone.

 

I invite both groups to reflect on the following statements:


  1. Femininity vs. fertility: Femininity is not synonymous with fertility. The transition out of the fertility phase does not diminish a woman’s worth or identity. Quite the opposite!

  2. Value of experience: Women work longer today and are invaluable carriers of knowledge, performance, motivation, inspiration, and wisdom—qualities that often develop with age.

  3. Awareness and action: Companies with female employees should be aware of (pre)menopausal health. Creating conditions that dispel stereotypes and misunderstandings fosters an environment of understanding, appreciation, honesty, and safety, ultimately enhancing performance.

  4. Open dialogue: Openly discussing menopause and creating a safe environment reduces tension and friction, alleviates suffering, and increases loyalty and well-being within the company. Engaged, motivated, and satisfied employees are more collaborative and productive.

  5. Proactive strategy: Ignoring menopause is not a viable strategy. Before dismissing the topic, consider worst-case, best-case, and most likely scenarios. Failure to act on these recommendations can lead to unforeseen problems.

  6. Addressing the management vacuum: There is a noticeable “menopause management vacuum” across the EU and the USA. Be the change you want to see! As an informed leader or HR manager, you can provide your team with an action plan to make this issue more manageable and cost-effective.

 

By addressing menopause proactively, you can mitigate significant health and economic impacts. Despite its importance, corporate health management programs, health insurers, and gynaecologists often neglect this topic, leading to higher costs for everyone involved.

 

Conclusion

Embracing a proactive approach to menopause in the workplace not only benefits individual employees but also strengthens the organization as a whole. Let’s create a supportive and inclusive work environment where everyone can thrive. By doing so, we pave the way for a healthier, happier, and more productive future.

 

Now you may be wondering how and when to do all of that. Let me make it very easy for you! Book your free appointment via our scheduling tool (please choose Consultation for Corporate Clients) or just drop us an email (assistenz@dr-zrinka.com) with your preferred time for a call.

 

You act now and you will not have your team members lost in menopause translation!


Follow me on Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

 

Dr. Zrinka K. Fidermuc Maler, Business & Health Empowerment Strategist, Author

Dr. Zrinka is an expert in corporate health management, leadership advisory, and mind and body performance, with a focus on mental, physical, and emotional fitness, and successful habit change. As a former competitive athlete in synchronized swimming and gymnastics, and a survivor of the Croatian war, Dr. Zrinka developed exceptional resilience. After relocating to Germany post-war, she earned a PhD in Social Sciences and dedicated her life to empowering individuals to transform by changing undesirable habits and taking control of their lives. Dr. Zrinka is the CEO of Dr. Zrinka - Health and Business Empowerment Academy, an online coaching platform. Her mission: Empowering Lifelong Transformation.

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