As a 40+ woman, how do you deal with the transition at work?

Many women walk around with hormonal complaints, such as low energy, overweight and irritable. Hormones are so important for your body and well-being. Menopause is a natural phase in women’s lives, but there are a few hurdles to overcome. More than half of the employees in transition experience inconvenience at work (source RIVM-May 2022). A few decent bumps are:

  • Fatigue
  • Concentration loss
  • Forgetfulness
  • Mood swings

The result may be that work motivation decreases as symptoms become more severe. It can even be so bad that you feel like you have a burnout, because the complaints are quite similar. As we notice in many cases, there is too little knowledge of hormones in the regular medical circuit. Fortunately, that will change and there are also alternative doctors who can help you get your hormone balance in order.

It’s not just the transition that affects 40+ women

Now the biggest problem of these hormonal matters is of course within yourself. You can’t help it, but it’s a personal thing. And often there is more. Many 40+ women have to deal with some elements in life that don’t cooperate either. These also require considerable attention from us, such as:

  • Women and teenagers in a house (so double hormone problems, haha)
  • Informal care role next to a job (e.g. parents who need care)
  • Little knowledge and understanding among companies of the perils of the transition
  • We do not want to look older, there is still a lot of age discrimination, because the image of the elderly is not positive. Looking older has a negative image (while you are so much more powerful, you know a lot more, you are often calmer and yes you also happen to have some wrinkles and your skin is becoming less tight).

What is the difference between menopause and menopause?

There are two terms that are used interchangeably, but during a lecture on this subject at my other work, a clear picture was painted for me.

It starts at birth, when we, as women, receive egg cells. After a while our 500 eggs are used up, then we enter menopause. Before that you have pre-menopause and there is post-menopause. Menopause itself lasts a year, starting from your last period. The transition consists of these three phases:

  • Pre-menopause – 41-51 years
  • Menopause – 51 years on average
  • Post-menopause – 51-61 years

The years I have put behind it are the averages. On average, the woman is therefore 51 when she has her last menstrual period and has therefore been in menopause for a year. Also read this article about the transition.

What are typical menopausal complaints?

  • Hot flashes, they can come occasionally or continuously, that differs per woman. One also perspires heavily, while the other is especially very hot.
  • Dryer mucous membranes (mouth, vagina and joints)
  • Irregular menstruation

Hot flashes can be made worse by coffee, wine and stress. The hot flashes are because your body’s thermostat starts working differently. Because of the hormones. Letting your body adjust to temperature fluctuations can help. For example, by taking a cold shower and/or going to the sauna. Wearing layers of clothing also helps, so you can at least take something off if you get too hot.

There are also other menopausal complaints that you hear less often:

  • palpitations
  • tendon problems (many women in particular suffer from their shoulder(s))
  • migraine
  • dry skin / dry eyes
  • faster bladder infection

Everything is due to our hormones. The liver breaks down the hormones and they are removed through the intestines or bladder. It’s important to get rid of them too. The adrenal glands are very important for producing cortisol, estrogen, testosterone and progesterone.

Estrogen takes care of our feminization and protects our vessels. Progesterone ensures relaxation and good sleep quality. Sleeping problems are therefore caused by the decrease in progesterone, which is reduced very slowly. Testosterone provides decisiveness, muscle building and the breakdown of fat. Cortisol helps us deal with stress.

Due to the large amount of cortisol that is produced in this phase, other hormones become unbalanced. That’s why it’s also good to help keep your stress under control. Try to relax yourself regularly. This works through your parasympathetic system (your nervous system). Essential to feel good.

Blood sugar fluctuations in 40+ women

If your blood sugar level has many peaks and troughs, for example by often eating sugary foods, the hormones also fluctuate more. You will then suffer more from transition complaints.

Fluctuations in blood sugar can cause:

  • Energy peaks and troughs (from a lot of energy to a very low energy level, this demands a lot from your body)
  • Impact on your night’s sleep
  • Even more need for sugars
  • Can lead to insulin resistance and even type 2 diabetes
  • Attack your immune system
  • As a result, your overall well-being…

You think you have to go to the bathroom at night, but that can often be because it’s a dip in your blood sugar. That is often between 3 and 4 am.

It is therefore better to keep your blood sugar stable, so that your hormones react less intensely.

How can you get stable blood sugar?

  • Eat 3-4 times a day
  • slow carbohydrates instead of fast carbohydrates
  • eat less sugar
  • exercise before breakfast

Tips to positively influence your vitality during the transition

Suffering from transitional complaints at work.  What can you do?

It’s the well-known tips if I’m honest, but so important for us women in menopause:

  • Try to reduce stress
  • Get enough sleep (7-8 hours)
  • Eat 3-4 times a day
  • Eat a varied diet
  • Eat 500 grams of vegetables per day
  • Limit the number of added sugars
  • Eat enough fats and proteins, especially omega 3 and 9
  • Drink 1.5 liters of water per day
  • Move enough and do strength training

This not only helps at home, but of course also at work.
If these ways do not help enough, you can also consider hormone therapy. Choose an organic variant here, because we naturally do not want those synthetic versions in our body. We want to do it as responsibly as possible. Some GPs advise women with menopausal symptoms to take the contraceptive pill after all. If you start doing this at a later age, it can have an effect on your health, such as heart problems. You will find good tips in this book!

Many daily activities affect your stress level more than you think. Such as scrolling through social media, watching news (we can’t help it anyway), must sports (running 10 km or having to exercise daily).

See what feels better, like walking for example, instead of extreme sports. Or go to a fitness school for some strength training with like-minded people. It’s still fun too.

There are always things that you can put on a lower or different pit for a while, to feel better about yourself. I love that I haven’t watched news for years. Not on television, but I don’t read newspapers anymore either. The most important things will pass anyway. I only hear the news on the radio regularly. Is there anything that interests me? Then I’ll just look it up.

How do you deal with menopausal complaints at work?

If you want to be less affected by the transition at work, it is good to refer to the points I wrote above. Are you still experiencing a lot of pain? Then consider the following:

  • Discuss it with your manager. Try to come up with solutions yourself that serve both of you.
  • Take care of yourself, also at work. So eat something regularly and walk around the licorice pot.
  • Make sure you enjoy your work. This may decrease due to fatigue. Work is never 100% fun, but discuss which tasks you do like to perform.
  • Discuss your complaints with the Occupational Health and Safety Service.
  • Maybe you can work flexible hours, or take a little longer rest in between?
  • Sometimes lightheartedness helps, laugh at yourself and people relax around you (that’s different from laughing at yourself and not taking it seriously!).

Do you work at home a lot?

Then see if you can change the times you work. For example, starting earlier in the morning, a longer lunch break and then working a bit longer. What works for you? When do you have the most energy?
Go for a walk in between. Not only when it is sunny, a little rain also refreshes you nicely.

Take yourself seriously!

It is essential to take your menopause symptoms seriously. Regularly stop and think about how you feel. The questions below can help you with this:

  • How fit do I feel?
  • How do I feel mentally?)
  • How resilient am I?
  • How do I experience my contribution?

A dose of humor can then very well help not to make it too heavy! 😀

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Together with Jenny I own Good food Healthy living. After my study period I mainly worked as an online analyst and made great career moves. But my real passion lies with healthy food and cooking! I have often worked with Jenny and I was often able to advise her on which food was right for her. We enjoyed exploring together. What exactly is a healthy lifestyle? What effect does nutrition and exercise have on how you feel? Why is the power of thoughts so strong? This website is my passion. Together with Jenny I like to share tips about a healthy lifestyle. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t give health advice. However, I can give tips about a sustainable and healthy lifestyle. I like to share recipes and also like to try something new in the field of nutrition.

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