27. Menopause and work: How uncertainty and stress impact women's career - Part 2 (COVID Series)
This is part 2 of a 2-part interview with Dr. Fatima Khan, a Menopause Specialist, discussing how menopause and hormonal imbalances affect women's careers from as early as the mid-30s. I go into detail about Fatima's training in my introduction on part 1, so please listen to that episode first (Ep.26) to learn more about her background, and most importantly, to listen to her introduction to the issues, we will be unpacking in this second half of our discussion.
After quite a few weeks of podcasts focusing squarely on COVID-19, the interview with Fatima turned out to be an absolute winner. Downloads have been massive, so thank you so much to everyone who has been listening, and I've also received calls, emails, and messages of support. I love it when this happens: when I take somewhat of a risk – frankly, I wasn't sure if it was the right time to release an episode about menopause during a covid pandemic! But it seems you liked it! It shows we are in tune with each other. And thank you for giving me the feedback. Good or bad, we must continue to communicate, so the episodes are always exciting and something you look forward to.
In this part 2 of the interview with Dr. Fatima Khan, we talk about the stress that comes from juggling career and family life, from deciding when/if to have kids and considering if you will be able to cope with it all. It's palpable how much Fatima is concerned about women's wellbeing and her concern about how stress and anxiety are impacting not only our career progression but our overall health. Fatima worries that right when we reach the career level that we aspire, we encounter the stigma of women not being influential leaders or decision-makers. Her goal is to ensure hormonal imbalances are not affecting women at this time, that they are under control, so women feel in control.
I interviewed Fatima at the very beginning of covid, so I also had the opportunity to ask her about the anxiety brought about by the lockdown and how it can impact us. Below is a list we prepared for you to help you maintain your well-being during these challenging times.
Dr. Fatima Khan's top advice for women's wellbeing:
- Journaling: as discussed last week, this is the primary framework suggested by Dr. Khan. It helps bring awareness and consciousness to what is happening to our bodies before and after our menstruation.
- With the help of your doctor, take the proper supplements to help our hormones. Fatima mentions a few as examples and for educational purposes: magnesium powder, fish oil, vitamin B, iron supplement, 1000 mg of liposomal vitamin C. If you're finding you're getting a bit sick, you can take vitamin C up to three times a day.
- Seven to ten days before your period, change your workout routine into more calming rehabilitative workouts.
- Find purpose and meaning through connection and helping other people. It can be doing some volunteer work that is very helpful these days or simply buying someone's groceries. This will give us a sense of fulfillment and contentment, something outside of ourselves.
- Practice the act of Kindness: We have talked about taking care of our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Kindness is almost contagious when you try and do things for other people without thinking of gain for yourself and food for the soul.
- Practice self-reflection: Self-reflection is one of the most fundamental things to do because when we self-reflect, we get a better perspective of what we want to do or what we can change. And this will help us immensely in our careers as well.
- In this time of the pandemic, it is important to know that feeling anxious is our body's normal reaction.
- Stop listening to the news all the time. Only look at the news once a day, and go back to your regular routine. Do the things you would typically do.
- Do some activities that you love to take your mind off things and let you relax, such as dancing, cooking, baking, and puzzles. Legos are fantastic for mindfulness.
- Follow good sleep hygiene. Refer to last week's interview show notes.
- Finally, it is important to have compassion, not just in this time of the pandemic but also in our careers. We don't know what each person is going through, and it sometimes helps put ourselves on their feet.
- Don't forget to be aware of the symptoms and signs of perimenopause and menopause and get the proper treatment. See the links below.
Dr. Fatima Khan is a member of the AGORA Medical Specialist Centre and Medical Education team, based in Melbourne. 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. So this is an excellent opportunity if you are based in Australia and would like to book an appointment with her. I will list the contact details for Fatima and other Agora Medical Clinic in the episode show notes.
Links mentioned in this episode: