They're the moms among us who sometimes go over the edge-- they fly off the handle at a moment's notice. But before you write them off as just plain nuts--could something else be going on? Yep... it's called menopause and it could soon happen to you.
Hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings, and short-term memory loss are just a few symptoms women experience during menopause as their ovaries produce fewer eggs and eventually stop. Ah--sounds lovely, right?
According to the National Institute on Aging, the average age of menopause is 51; however, many women experience perimenopause in their 30s and 40s--a stage of transition where symptoms kick in early. And these symptoms don't break for your 9 to 5--in fact, many women become irritable, sleepy, and distracted at the office.
Yes, this could happen to you too. How would you deal if you became forgetful while talking to your boss? Or you fell asleep in the middle of a meeting?
Well, you could just deal--or should you (gulp) tell your boss?
"Disclosing any personal information to your superior is a personal and important judgment call," says Colleen Longstreet, Human Resources Director at a New York City-based technology company. "You have to ask yourself how bad the situation really is."
Did you miss a deadline? Well, that can slide. Have you overslept three times this week? That may be a bigger problem. But can disclosing such personal information work against you, causing co-workers to view you as weak or emotional? Or will divulging the problem clear up any confusion about your recent behavior? Heed this advice: "There are key things to consider first--what is your relationship with your boss? Is your office a formal setting?" she says. "If you work in a high-pressure environment, ask yourself whether your boss would have the patience to hear you out."
That said, according to Longstreet, most mangers are sympathetic to people's personal needs, especially those of women. Chalk it up to more and more women entering the workforce, or maybe it's the fact that people spend so much time at work (thank you, Blackberries and Instant Messenger!). And as a result, companies are becoming more adept at dealing with personal issues that crop up at work.
But what if you work in a male-dominated environment? It can be awkward--if not downright icky--to tell your male boss that hot flashes have you wanting to strip naked in the office. "Sure, a man can never fully relate to women's health issues and he may not even understand what menopause or other gynecological issues are, but he will listen."
"However, if you're going to confront your boss, keep details to a minimum," Longstreet advises. Start with something along the lines of: 'You may have noticed I've been forgetting to pitch ideas lately or that I look tired during meetings. I'm experiencing menopause and am trying not to let it affect my work.'
"The bottom line is most companies have a zero tolerance policy on discrimination and your employer does want to help you perform to the best of your ability," Longstreet says. "Managers are also willing to tailor people's jobs to fit their situation. Your boss may ask for a doctor's note, but concessions can usually be made."