Today I’m talking to Kerry Taylor, Menopause Coach.
Kerry works with large organisations and private 1-1 clients to offer support on all aspects of the menopause transition.
Based in a beautiful part of the world – south west France – Kerry has a global reach with her online business.
SD Hi Kerry, thank you for joining me today. Can you start by sharing a little about your background and how you came to be a Menopause Coach?
KT Hi Sally, of course. So, I qualified as a nurse originally, 18/19 years ago. Then about 10-12 years ago I worked on a joint project between the NHS and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) helping people with long term health conditions to get back into work.
After that project ended, I began to work freelance in workplace health and occupational health with people who had long-term mental health conditions.
I worked with lots of different organisations and employment sectors and noticed a lot of referrals from women in their 40s and 50s. These women were suddenly experiencing symptoms like anxiety, depression, loss of concentration, poor memory – to the point where they thought they might have dementia.
None of this was being picked up as menopause, and this really piqued my interest. I thought there’s a lot of this going on and there’s not a lot of support being given.
What these women needed was a lot of practical advice on how they can manage their symptoms, how they can maintain their attendance at work. So, I did additional training with the British Menopause Society and transitioned into doing menopause coaching.
Fantastic, it sounds like each stepping stone of your career has led you to this point! Who do you currently work with?
KT I work with a large organisation on their occupational health, and with women in 1-1 sessions. I ran a session with a client’s husband recently. Their relationship was really struggling, and she wanted him to hear from someone else about what’s going on for her and how he can help. He found it really helpful and has become a lot more understanding and empathetic, even to the point of knowing when to walk away and give her some space!
SD Getting the partner onboard is so important, isn’t it. Often the husband or partner is struggling because the woman is so overwhelmed and can’t communicate what she needs. Once they know what’s happening, they feel more able to offer support.
What is the situation like in France regarding public perception of menopause and how it is managed by healthcare professionals?
KT France is slightly lagging behind in terms of accessing up to date research on HRT (hormone replacement therapy). But the main difference is that if you visit a doctor here, they will do a full raft of investigations right away because they recognize that early intervention prevents problems further down the line.
They are big on complementary therapies and natural remedies here. If I go to my doctor and say I’m experiencing brain fog and other symptoms and I think it’s menopause she will immediately send me for a mammogram, a smear test, and a gynaecologist referral. And that will all be done within 2-3 weeks.
But the gynaecologist will first say they are going to prescribe herbal remedies and skin creams and so on before thinking about synthetic medications like HRT. Which is fine, but in some cases, HRT is the best approach and yet you must go through everything else first to get there.
SD Wow, this is such a contrast to the UK system. Women here are struggling to get a telephone appointment with a GP and if you do manage to get one, the treatment approach is usually HRT or nothing! Even once you have a HRT prescription, there’s no guarantee the pharmacy will have any!
SD Can you explain a bit about what sort of workplace support is available to women, and how they can access it?
KT Sure. So, this obviously varies between organisations and what resources they have available, but generally speaking employers are keen to offer support.
I always start by advising women to look through the company policies on staff wellbeing and read them through the lens of menopause. For example, it’s easy to think that a policy on stress management doesn’t apply to menopause but stress makes menopausal symptoms worse.
Once you’ve identified some relevant policies approach your manager and start the conversation about getting help and support.
The kind of support companies offer varies but it might include:
- A specific menopause policy
- Stress management and/or staff wellbeing policy
- Employee Assistance Programme that might cover counselling, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), or seeing a physiotherapist
Hot flushes are one of the most disturbing symptoms for women. In terms of specific practical support, women can ask to be seated near a window and have a desk fan if it’s an office situation and have access to cold drinking water facilities.
Uniforms can be problematic for hot flushes. If the uniform is provided ask about size and fabric options. Some women find the maternity size most comfortable because of its loose fit and often lighter fabric. This is really helpful when bloating is a problem too. If there isn’t a maternity option, ask about having the uniform in 2 different sizes.
Working from home may be an option for some women. This can help with managing symptoms of brain fog and anxiety. It removes all the distraction and demands of an office.
SD Fantastic advice there, thank you. Lots of practical tips for women to try.
Finally, if you could share one golden nugget of advice for women experiencing perimenopause and menopause, what would it be?
KT When I see women who are overwhelmed and being hard on themselves about how they are struggling to cope I always say, “what would you say to your best friend if they’d just come to you and told you all this?” 9 times out of 10 they come back with a much kinder response!
It’s so important to be kind to yourself, to recognize the need for help and don’t assume you can power through on your own. If it all feels like too much, do a brain dump of all your symptoms and worries on paper and then work out the main barriers and challenges. Break them down into manageable chunks and go from there.
SD Small steps, that’s the best way forward. Thank you so much Kerry, it has been a joy speaking with you.
Find out more about Kerry’s work and connect with her at:
Facebook Kerry Taylor Menopause Coach