Bristol woman left job thinking menopause symptoms were signs of dementia

  • Lauren Chiren speaks to ITV News

A woman from Bristol who left her job because she thought she was experiencing early-onset dementia believes there needs to be greater awareness of the symptoms of menopause.

Lauren Chiren has developed a programme to give employers the tools to help women going through the menopause and is calling for "menopause champions" to be appointed at every workplace.

New research has found the physical and mental symptoms of menopause are causing as many as one in ten women to leave work.

Lauren said: "I left my job in my early forties thinking I had early on-set dementia.

"I experienced about 18 months of seriously losing my confidence, my self esteem and questioning my own ability to do my job - so when my doctor told me three months later that I'd just been through premature menopause, I was basically the happiest menopausal woman in Bristol."

Lauren feels that if she had a greater understanding of symptoms, she would have realised she didn't have dementia.

"What it made me realise is that if I had gone through that experience then surely someone else had as well and that led me on a bit of a journey of discovery", she said.

"If I was able to identify what was going on and there was someone specialist in that area, I may have felt a lot more confident having that conversation.

"As it was, I didn't want to make myself look weak or vulnerable, and leaving my job felt like the only solution."

Lauren doesn't just want to help employees but also women themselves who are going through the menopause.

"When I reached out across my networks I found out that actually this was something many women were going through", she said.

"A loss of confidence, a lack of self-belief and a lot of stress and anxiety coming from nowhere."

Over the past seven years, Lauren has supported employers to become "menopause-savvy", by giving them the tools to help women in their companies, and she says it has been a huge success.

"There's a growing appetite to help support the women coming through as women are working longer and later into life than they ever have done before", she said.

"I'm so excited that people are wanting to train up in this space and support their colleagues and themselves", she added.