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WATCH: Specialist doctor gives her verdict as menopause is introduced as a disability in the workplace

By Annabelle Gauntlett

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Dr Louise Newton.
Dr Louise Newton.

A menopause specialist set to come to Inverness to host a hormone debate at Eden Court has given her verdict on menopause being introduced as a disability in the workplace.

Dr Louise Newson, originally from Hampshire, is a GP and menopause specialist and holds an advanced menopause specialist certificate with faculty of sexual and reproductive healthcare. She is passionate about increasing awareness and knowledge of the perimenopause and menopause, as well as campaigns that will form better menopause care for all women.

New legal obligations have recently come into place to support menopausal women. The symptoms endured have been found to be considered a disability and employers face being sued if they fail to make reasonable adjustments.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued the guidance to clarify the legal obligations to workers going through the menopause.

These symptoms can include hot flushes, brain fog and difficulty sleeping.

The EHRC said bosses should offer changes such as providing rest areas or flexible hours to help. Additionally, relaxing uniform policies to allow women to wear cooler clothes could also help.

Failing to make "reasonable adjustments" amounts to disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 if the symptoms have a "long-term and substantial impact" on a woman's ability to carry out their usual day-to-day activities, the EHRC said.

When talking about the new menopause health laws, Dr Louise Newton said: “You don’t want to be labelled disabled without being offered any treatment.

“I know that if I wasn’t taking my hormone replacement therapy (HRT) then I would fulfil all of the criteria for being disabled. Not only that, if I wasn’t taking HRT, there’s a lot more chance that I would actually be physically disabled too, due to osteoporosis.

“So, I can understand that, but actually you don’t want to be labelled disabled if you have a treatable condition. I think we have to be careful with not just shoving women back down to be quiet again.

“I think the money and resources that have been spent on talking about this could have easily been diverted to actually allowing women to be given evidence based treatment.”

When talking about the debilitating symptoms that can occur in menopausal women, Louise said: “A lot of people find that they become a shadow of their former self, they become lower in their mood, and anxious, but because the other symptoms come on quite gradually, they sometimes blame something else or the situation.

“That’s why it is so important to show that it’s not just menopausal women that need to know the symptoms. I would love more men and children to be educated so that they can recognise it in others.”

Unfortunately, menopause continues to remain a taboo topic that is often deemed as a negative ageing factor, a dysfunction or something that shouldn’t be spoken about.

However, it is estimated that there are around 13 million people who are currently peri or menopausal in the UK (Wellbeing of Women) which is equivalent to a third of the entire UK female population.

Dr Louise Newton said: “People just say menopausal women are full of complaints, but of course they are because they are really suffering, but as soon as you treat them they’re not, they’re most delightful and healthy as ever.

“I think we just need to learn what it is, how easy it is to treat and how transformational it can be without these preconceived prejudices which are going on at the moment.”

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