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Menopause Guidance

Read stories shared by your colleagues about their experience of menopause here

The purpose of this guidance is to ensure a greater understanding and clarity about what menopause is, what support is available and how this support can be used. 

What is menopause?

Menopause is part of the natural ageing process. It refers to the time when menstruation has ceased for 12 consecutive months. It is triggered by lower levels of oestrogen, which decrease naturally between the ages of 45 and 55. Whilst it is a natural process, it can brought on earlier by certain things e.g. chemotherapy, hysterectomy.

Helpful definitions of the stages of menopause:

Menopause is when a person stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. Menopause typically occurs between 45 and 55 years old, with the average age being 51, however, it can be earlier or later than this due to surgery, illness, genetic pre-disposition to early menopause or other reasons.

Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause when a person may experience changes, such as irregular periods or other menopausal symptoms. This can be years before menopause.

Post menopause is the time after menopause has occurred, starting when a person has not had a period for twelve consecutive months.


Symptoms of the menopause

Symptoms can manifest both physically and psychologically including, hot flushes, cold sweats, poor concentration, mood swings, headaches, panic attacks, heavy/light periods, anxiety, loss of confidence, difficulty sleeping and joint stiffness, aches and pains. Symptoms can last for up 14 years but on average most symptoms last 4 years.

It is important to note that not everyone will notice every symptom, or even need help or support. Symptoms can also vary in severity. Some will choose to use HRT (hormone replacement therapy), while others will choose to alleviate symptoms with alternative therapies or diet and exercise.

Guidance principles

The principles are:

  • to raise awareness and foster an environment of understanding and open, respectful and honest dialogue that ensures colleagues are comfortable in having conversations about menopause.
  • to provide appropriate information on our web pages about menopause to all colleagues.
  • to ensure appropriate information is available to all managers so that they can support colleagues at work.
  • to consider reasonable adjustments where appropriate.

The University of Exeter has a longstanding commitment to promoting equality, diversity and inclusivity. We are working in alignment with the ‘Our People’ theme of the University Strategy 2030 which is to ‘support each other to thrive, be fulfilled and reach our potential. We will celebrate diversity and be inclusive, fair and compassionate in everything we do, prioritising the health and wellbeing of the community’.

Medical info.

We recommend that you speak with your GP in the first instance to ensure that you are being medically supported. There is good advice on when and how you can discuss any symptoms you are feeling with your GP on in the menopause advice sheet. It may also be helpful to read the NICE guidelines for people experiencing the menopause. These guidelines summarise what treatment and support is available for you through the NHS. 

More information is available in the external resources tab.

Training & Courses

University of Exeter: Bitesize Learning -Menopause at Work

This session is aimed at all colleagues and managers who want to know more about the symptoms of menopause and how they can be managed. The session is run by our in-house Occupational Health team.


Talkworks for Menopause. Talkworks is the NHS provider for NHS Talking Therapies (previously IAPT) in Devon. They periodically run a 6 week CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) for menopause course. It aims to provide information, strategies and techniques to reduce the impact of symptoms of menopause and perimenopause. The course involves attending weekly, two-hour sessions via Teams and is free to attend.

For next course please check their webpages as linked above and call Talkworks direct to book a place: 0300 555 3344.


University Support

The best way to receive support at work is to speak to your manager and explain that you would like a meeting to discuss your work and wellbeing. It is helpful to mention in advance that it is specifically the menopausal symptoms and effects, if you can. This will allow your manager time to read this guidance beforehand and seek any additional help they may need. Below is some advice as to what you can do to prepare for the meeting and what to discuss in the meeting. 

  • Book a time with your manager. This should be somewhere private.
  • It may be helpful to keep a diary of your symptoms and the effect they are having so that you can be specific in the meeting.
  • It may be helpful to aim to explain your situation clearly e.g. if you are experiencing hot flushes, what effect are they having on you? Does it make aspects of your job, e.g. giving presentations, more difficult?
  • Consider ideas that may help you such as practical and reasonable adjustments so that you are ready to suggest these to your manager. For example, if hot flushes are an issue can you move nearer a window or get a desk fan. Try to be flexible and put forward different ideas/solutions. It might also be worthwhile talking about the duration of any adjustments. If you are seeking medical help, it may be that some of your symptoms will be alleviated with medication.
  • Ask for regular reviews to be set up so that you and your manager can discuss your health and wellbeing on a regular basis.
  • Have a look at the menopause guidance for managers too and highlight this to them in case they are not aware of it.

Menopause Network

See the "Menopause Network" tab.


See the "Training & Courses" tab.

Occupational Health

  • If you think that adjustments to your work may be necessary, ask your manager to refer you to the Occupational Health service to discuss support and possible work adjustments. If you cannot discuss issues with your manager you can speak to occupational health over the phone to seek initial advice. Obviously, without your manager’s knowledge of your situation, some of the support might be limited.
  • When colleagues are referred to Occupational Health they will carry out a holistic assessment as to whether or not menopause may be contributing to symptoms or impacting on an individual's wellbeing. Advice and guidance will be given in line with up-to-date research. They will provide support and advice to HR and line managers in determining and agreeing upon reasonable adjustments if required. They will signpost to appropriate sources of help and advice where needed.
  • The Occupational Health Team run a training session on menopause in the workplace: please see the "Training & Courses" tab.

Spectrum Life

  • Colleagues can seek free advice and counseling support from Spectrum Life 24/7.
  • They also provide online information on aspects such as low mood and self-esteem issues.

Further University support and information

  • Sickness absence - peri-menopausal/ menopausal symptoms are included as an option for you in our sickness absence categories. This enables the University to understand how people are impacted in this specific area.
  • Flexible working - It might be relevant to think about how you can adjust your working pattern or times on a temporary basis. Please note that colleagues in professional service roles may already have access to flexi-time which can be used.
  • Career break – would it help to consider a break from the work environment for a period of time? If so have a look at the career break scheme.

Menopause Networks

We have two menopause groups: a University of Exeter Menopause network which is open to colleagues, PGRs and mature students across all campuses and staff members from associate organisations such as the Guild and INTO; and an FX Plus organised Menopause Café for Cornwall-based colleagues and associate organisations (staff only).

Menopause Network

We are an informal, supportive group for staff members and students meeting online every two months. Our sessions are a chance for those with lived experience of this topic to meet and chat, whether you are approaching/going through menopause, or post-menopausal, you are welcome. These cafés restarted in May 2022 and while they will continue to be run online for the most part, some in-person events will be organised further along on the Streatham and St Luke's campuses. We also have invited speakers on topics related to the menopause and peri-menopause. These talks run at least termly.

If you would like to attend please email Rosie Dixon to put your name on the mailing list: Rosie can also answer practical questions about the group but if you have more involved queries around menopause, the group's activities and direction, please contact Dr Louise Pendry (group facilitator) direct. Suggestions for speakers are also very welcome.

We also have a Teams site for the Network where we ask each other questions and share experiences, useful papers, contacts, book recommendations etc. You're welcome to just be on the mailing list for network sessions and talks if you'd rather not be on this Teams network.


Cornwall - Menopause Café

Penryn Menopause Café is organised through FX Plus. Cafés are held online and/or in-person monthly on Penryn campus. The café lasts an hour and is an accessible, confidential, and supportive space where colleagues can discuss any issues around menopause, gain signposting to further resources and support, and share information and tips.

Who can join and how?
The Cornwall Menopause Café is open to all Cornwall colleagues, whatever gender or age. Note that the group is not open to students. Details of the cafés will be announced in Cornwall staff newsletters as well as via their Teams site. To join the Teams site or if you have any queries, please contact Clare Manser.

Group Coordinators
Clare Manser, Partnership Wellbeing Manager, Falmouth Exeter Plus (FX Plus):
Iris Ridout, co-organiser:

More information: Menopause Café (Cornwall)

Please note that only colleagues based in Cornwall will be able to open the link. If you are based at a non-Cornwall campus and wish to join, please contact the organisers.

External resources

Ageing books and resources

Menopause books

  • Managing Hot flushes – Myra Hunter and Melanie Smith
  • Menopause – Deborah Garlick
  • Menopause: All you need to know in one concise manual - Dr Louise Newson


  • The free Balance app allows you to track your symptoms, access personalised expert content, download a Health Report, share stories in the community and lots more. The app has lots of very good feedback and is brought to you by renowned menopause specialist, Dr Louise Newson and the thousands of people who’ve shared their perimenopause and menopause insights.

Organisations/web resources

  • Balance Menopause Library has a number of factsheets and booklets to download as well as podcasts. Topics include ADHD and menopause, migraines, vaginal dryness, testosterone, mental health and depression (and antidepressants), and HRT. Some resources also available in French, Hindi and Spanish.
  • Henpicked has some good advice about speaking to your manager about menopause.
  • Manage My Menopause is an NHS run site where you can fill in a questionnaire to receive tailored advice from experts.
  • Guidance from the Faculty of Occupational Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians suggests the following:
    • Find out more about the menopause from available sources of information
    • See your GP for advice on available treatment options.
    • Discuss your practical needs with your line manager, HR or another manager you feel comfortable talking to.
    • Use technology where this is helpful, e.g. for reminders or note-taking.
    • If those you work with are supportive, this can make a big difference. Talk about your symptoms and solutions with colleagues, particularly those who are also experiencing symptoms, use humour to deflect embarrassment, and work out your preferred coping strategies and working patterns.
    • Avoid hot flush triggers (such as hot food and drinks), especially before presentations or meetings.
    • Consider relaxation techniques such as mindfulness and other potentially helpful techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy, as these can help reduce the impact of symptoms.
    • Consider lifestyle changes such as weight reduction, smoking cessation and exercise.

We constantly updating these pages so if you have a useful resource to recommend which we should list please contact us at

Managers' Guidance

Your role as a manager is to support your colleague, but the University does not expect you to be an expert in menopause. Managers should familiarise themselves with the guidance linked below. If a colleague is experiencing symptoms they should be encouraged to also seek advice and support from their doctor with regard to their health.

Menopause: Managers' Guidance