26. Menopause and work: How menoupause affects your career - Part 1

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To the men who are listening to this podcast (and reading this blog), well done you! I’m delighted that despite the title you are sticking around. This interview will be invaluable if you have a wife, daughter, mother, best friend, work colleague and so on. It will help you understand and support the women in your life. I’m sending you a virtual “high five”!

This is part 1 or a 2-part interview with Dr. Fatima Khan, a highly skilled Menopause Specialist with a holistic approach to women’s physical, emotional and mental well-being. Fatima is passionate about women’s health. She completed a Diploma at the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists in the UK; she has an Advanced Menopause Certification accredited from the British Menopausal Society and Faculty of Reproductive and Sexual Health. Her specializations were achieved after her extensive training as a doctor at Kings College London, which is well recognized as a referral center for menopausal women with complex medical problems. But that’s not all, Fatima has also undertaken further training in the USA on optimizing hormonal health for anti-ageing and longevity.

She has recently moved to Australia, and is now a member of the AGORA Medical Specialist Centre and Medical Education team, based in Melbourne. There, she sees patients and teaches GPs and Registrars in range of women’s issues.

At the time this episode goes live, as we are in lockdown mode due to COVID-19, the Australian Government has enabled doctors to see patients remotely via telehealth. I myself did that yesterday, I had my regular specialist appointment via telehealth and it went really smoothly. So this is a great opportunity, if you are based in Australia and would like to consult with Fatima, to book an appointment with her. I will list the contact details for Fatima, and other Agora Medical Clinic in the episode show notes. Agora has a strong focus on women, including obstetrics, gynecology, fertility and cosmetic medicine.  

After quite a few weeks of podcasts focusing squarely on COVID-19, this episode may sound very different indeed. Until I noticed an interesting trend. You see, I follow several private female blogs and private Facebook groups, and over the past few weeks as the anxiety over COVID-19 and its economic, social and health impact started unfolding, so did many very common issues women face: breakouts, hormonal imbalances, hot flushes, waking up at 3 am. Some tweets from women asking “who else is waking up at 3 am” had hundreds and hundreds of comments.

I really like how Fatima addressed the hormonal as well as the stress levels we currently have in our day to day lives.  She touches on both, weaves them together as well as addresses them separately, which for me was really educational.

Like many women, as I aged, I felt more anxious and fatigued, perhaps due to the many things we worry about and things we have to do. I experienced lack of concentration, sleeplessness and mild bouts of depression every now and then, perhaps due to the many roles in life that I’ve had to juggle from being mother, a leader in the work place, a wife and all the responsibilities that come with it all. In hindsight, I am 100% certain that my hormones have at times helped me pull through, and at times got in the way and really negatively impacted my career, possibly since my late 30s.

All the topics Fatima will describe in her interview, I can mark a tick next to all of them: forgetfulness, extreme headaches, weight gain, mood swings. Fatima's biggest concern and goal is to support ambitious corporate women to continue to pursue their careers and not feel like they need to give up on anything because they can’t control their perimenopausal symptoms, or any hormonal fluctuations they may be experiencing.  Her goal is to treat and empower women, so they can fully embrace their career.

I hope you enjoyed this first half of the interview. In Part 2 we are going to look at actions: what can we actually do to improve our well-being? Step by step tips and advice from Fatima for women of different ages. So, don’t forget to subscribe to my Reset Your Career Community and I will send Part 2 to you next week.

Here are some of the key takeaways from Part 1 of our interview:

  1. Starting in our mid-thirties, our progesterone level goes down. Progesterone is not only a fertility hormone but our calming hormone, so it can result in more anxiety related symptoms where we get more emotional.
  2. Early to mid-forties, estrogen level goes down as well, period becomes shorter or longer. All the things we felt from mid-thirties get exaggerated by this age.
  3. About depression, true depression is having a low mood for six weeks. We will find that after our period we feel so much better, and so this depressive feeling we have prior is because of the low level of hormones.
  4. For the sleep problems we have, it can be due to decline in estrogen and progesterone, and we have to fix it by getting the correct hormones to replace the deficiency. But for majority of the people, it’s because we just don’t have a good sleep hygiene.
  5. Solution: Write a journal. Write your thoughts, your feelings, what you are grateful for that day, what the winds of the day, what to improve in terms of self-development, and then set intentions for the next day, but in relation to their menstrual cycle. Now you can change your routine and listen to your body 7 to 10 days prior menstruation with the help of this journal. Changes can be:
    1. Keep your schedule lighter and not over commit to work.
    2. Avoid doing intense workouts, instead you can do yoga, Pilates, or something similar that is more calming.
    3. Minimize caffeine intake, take green tea instead.
    4. Have a sleep hygiene of going to bed at 9pm with all gadgets switched off.
    5. Avoid processed foods and go for more green vegetables. Eat nutrient rich food, not energy dense food.
    6. Keep small snacks so as not to have big sugar slumps.
    7. Supplements are important: powdered magnesium, vitamin B, vitamin C, Vitex, Iron supplement, Fish oil
  6. Recognize the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, there are links below you can check. And consult a specialist to be able to tailor fit for you the solutions depending on your conditions. Please consult your doctor or see a specialist before taking any medication or supplement. Refer to the links below.

Links mentioned in this episode:

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Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach corporate, non-profit, and public professionals the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress. 

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