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2016 National Disabled Members' Conference
8 July 2016

Conference the menopause affects women in many different ways; and just like periods, it is something rarely discussed. We know that the menopause effects different ages and last for different periods of time. The symptoms can be very different from one woman to the next. There are at least 34 recognised different symptoms for example:

• Panic attacks, anxiety and depression

• Insomnia, fatigue and sleep disorders

• Reduced levels of concentration and memory

• Joint aches and pains needing physiotherapy

• Osteoporosis

Medications that are commonly prescribed for the menopause can conflict with other medication or may have an adverse impact on other medical conditions leaving meaning disabled women will have to deal with severe difficulties that non-disabled women will not have to face. In some cases the individual will need to choose between taking the medical treatment they need for their disability or the medication to alleviate the distressing and debilitating symptoms of the menopause.

With the increased retirement age and women working longer more and more disabled women are going through the menopause while still at work. It is therefore essential that employers recognise the menopause as a medical condition like any other and consider the additional impact it may have on disabled women.

The lack of understanding and support for disabled women going through the menopause makes them more at risk of disciplinary proceedings for capability and increasingly likely to be subjected to sickness absence procedures.

Conference calls on the National Disabled Members committee to work with the National Women’s Committee to:

1. gather evidence, and if appropriate consider carrying out research, on the impact of the menopause on disabled women

2. issue up to date information and guidance to Branches so they can provide better support to disabled women members going through menopause.

3. consider issuing guidance on if, and when, the menopause could be classed as a disability as defined by the Equality Act c

4. campaign to break down barriers to enable and empower disabled women going through the menopause to be taken seriously