May 20, 2024

Menopause for thought

Carolyn Pearson, Founder and CEO of Maiden Voyage, shares some expert advice on how organisations can support travellers going through the menopause

Meeting somebody who you know really well but whose name has gone completely out of your head, having a panic attack at a busy airport, suffering a hot flash whilst presenting on stage, or having to endure another late business dinner when you’re already exhausted. These are just some of the scenarios those experiencing menopause navigate on a regular basis.

There are around 40 different symptoms associated with menopause, including night sweats, joint pains, brain fog, tinnitus, disturbed sleep, anxiety, dizziness and loss of confidence as well as the risk of developing more serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and dementia.

I’m regularly asked by those organising business travel what they can do to support women experiencing the menopause. Unfortunately, there’s not one simple solution, everybody’s menopause journey is completely different and unique to them.

Women need to take responsibility for their own menopause journey but as employers it’s our job to facilitate them in doing so. The question is, how?

Asking somebody to disclose their sexual orientation, unseen disabilities, chronic illnesses or religion is inappropriate and the same goes for menopause. It can be a minefield. Ask me on the wrong day if I’m menopausal and there’s a risk I might (metaphorically) blow your head off!

So the answer is, you don’t ask ‘that’ question but you do ask my two favourite ‘magic questions’:

  • Do you feel comfortable, safe and well to undertake this trip?
  • What else can we do to help you to feel comfortable, safe and well on this upcoming trip?

This opens the door for your business travellers to prescribe exactly what they need. 

This could be:

  • A well-ventilated hotel room with good air-conditioning or windows that open.
  • A hotel that provides bedding made from natural fibres.
  • Taking a later flight.
  • Opting out of the evening schedule or organized dinners.
  • A very quiet hotel room, with non-adjoining doors, in a quiet part of the hotel.
  • Control over their own schedule so that they can navigate doctors’ appointments.
  • A hotel with a swimming pool or sauna for gentle exercise or relaxation.
  • A hotel with a gym to keep with up with a resistance training regime.

Employees will, however, appreciate any advice that you can provide. Some more generic things to consider are:

  • Access to advice about which drugs, supplements or herbal remedies are banned in certain countries.  Your Travel Risk Management providers should have this information to hand.
  • Reminding employees to take extra menopause medication such as HRT with them in case of travel disruption, detainment or if they become unfit to travel.  Have them take a copy of their prescription in case they need to replenish their medications.
  • Advising employees to take any medication in their hand luggage in case checked baggage goes missing.
  • Suggesting that employees might like to assemble their own menopause kit which might include a black-out eye mask, aromatherapy oils, ear-plugs, cooling gel a hand-held fan and anything else that they find useful to support their menopause journey.
  • Consider organising a menopause focus group through which employees can share their experiences, concerns, tips and advice, as well as discuss how hotels and other suppliers can better support them as they travel with menopause in mind.