26. Menopause and work: How menoupause affects your career - Part 1
Well done to the people who are listening to this podcast (and reading this blog)! 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 of 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 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-aging 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 a range of women's issues.
When 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 did that yesterday, I had my regular specialist appointment via telehealth, and it went smoothly. So this is an excellent 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 prevalent 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 like how Fatima addressed the hormonal and stress levels we currently have in our day-to-day lives. She touches on both, weaves them together, and manages them separately, which for me was educational.
Like many women, I felt more anxious and exhausted as I aged, perhaps due to the many things we worry about and things we have to do. I experienced a lack of concentration, sleeplessness, and mild bouts of depression now and then, perhaps due to the many roles in life that I've had to juggle from being a mother, a leader in the workplace, a wife, and all the responsibilities that come with it all. In hindsight, I am 100% certain that my hormones have helped me pull through at times, and at times got in the way and negatively impacted my career, possibly since my late 30s.
Of 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 most significant 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 careers.
I hope you enjoyed this first half of the interview. In Part 2 we are going to look at actions: what can we 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:
- Starting in our mid-thirties, our progesterone level goes down. Progesterone is a fertility hormone and our calming hormone, so it can result in more anxiety-related symptoms where we get more emotional.
- Early to mid-forties, estrogen level goes down as well, the period becomes shorter or longer. All the things we felt from mid-thirties get exaggerated by this age.
- About depression, true depression has 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.
- The sleep problems we have can be due to a decline in estrogen and progesterone, and we have to fix it by getting the correct hormones to replace the deficiency. But for the majority of the people, it's because we just don't have good sleep hygiene.
- Solution: Write a journal. Write your thoughts, your feelings, what you are grateful for that day, what the winds of the day are, what to improve in terms of self-development, and then set intentions for the next day, but concerning their menstrual cycle. Now you can change your routine and listen to your body 7 to 10 days before menstruation with the help of this journal. Changes can be:
- Keep your schedule lighter and not over-commit to work.
- Avoid doing intense workouts; instead, you can do yoga, pilates, or something similar that is more calming.
- Minimize caffeine intake; take green tea instead.
- Have sleep hygiene of going to bed at 9 pm with all gadgets switched off.
- Avoid processed foods and go for more green vegetables. Eat nutrient-rich food, not energy-dense food.
- Keep small snacks so as not to have big sugar slumps.
- Supplements are important: powdered magnesium, vitamin B, vitamin C, Vitex, Iron supplement, Fish oil
- 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: