Perimenopause – Definition

At first glance, this didn’t seem an appropriate topic for two middle-aged guys (Chris Bensted & Ian Brett) to champion. Like our LGBTQ+ Advocacy, we hesitated as outsiders, to the point that we missed Menopause Awareness Day. Only to be followed by two unprompted calls in a week from female ADIs asking if it was this affecting their lessons and how they could better cope. This wasn’t because we have any qualifications, but because the Driving Instructor and Trainers Collective is becoming recognised as the support hub and we are known for joining the dots, which we did. With Davina McCall returning to our screens to explore the subject further, we wanted to help draw attention to the subject and as an industry platform help our colleagues discuss an ever-important but often unspoken issue.

In our research, we have realised that this is a too often trivialised part of many lives that affects mental, physical and emotional situations and can dramatically affect businesses or job roles. If this doesn’t affect you it will be affecting your family, loved ones and some pupils. Similarly to ‘Stand up, Don’t man-up’ our support for male mental health and well-being, discussed during and following COVID, we want to open the doors of understanding and enable these experiences to be talked about and supported.

What is it?

On The Instructor Podcast, perimenopause spokesperson Annie Gendron from ‘The Brain on Strike’ Podcast explained that ‘Menopause’ is just one day in life, one year without a period. It is the moment that sits between perimenopause and post-menopause, and while menopause is usually the most referred to perimenopause is finally getting the recognition it deserves from women, health care professionals and some businesses. Annie tells us how it isn’t all negative and some changes in attitude can be positively life-changing. Hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, aching joints and memory issues are the most easily recognised symptoms. Others can include frustration, overwhelm, loss of focus, disregard, dry skin, and like many conditions everybody has their own unique experience.

As part of our efforts not to focus only on clutch control, DVSA and the driving test the DITC has contacted the British Menopause Society and their public face Women’s Health Concern both of which have some interesting and informative shared resources. They were keen to support the Driving Instructor and Trainers Collective’s interest and have shared resources with us (See below).

Menopause means ‘the final period’ and is a sign that the ovaries have stopped working. With this comes an end to the production of certain key hormones which results in many of the changes women face. This is preceded by the perimenopause phase, in which there are fluctuations in the egg production and processes in the body which results in some symptoms and changes occurring. The average age of menopause is 51, with 1% of women becoming menopausal under the age of 40 and 0.1% under 30. Women should be encouraged to look out for changes in their 40s and track any changes as diagnosis 45 plus is usually done via history, not tests as the tests are not predictive.  Treatment is available, but with such a huge variety in symptoms and severity, it can often result in it being undiagnosed until later on in the process. Menopause can also affect bone and heart health so it is important that women particularly are educated on the symptoms and personal trends to aid diagnosis and allow them to support any changes with diet, supplements or other interventions.

Perimenopause and the workplace

As ADIs we know the challenges we face in the day to day running of the business. While it can be the best job in the world changes in memory, energy levels, focus and mood swings can take their toll. From speaking to a number of ADIs who are facing this it is clear that the effects can be seen in both the lessons they deliver and the business they run. As with the life skill we teach, coping strategies are often the key to success.

Recognise the change and how it is affecting you.

When are you tired or irritated? What are you forgetting? 

What changes do you need to make?

Do you need to trim back that caffeine addiction, which can have a negative effect on sleep and stress? Do you need to tailor your working hours, or reduce them – remembering to reassess your pricing to compensate (Check our ‘Better Pricing’ guide)?


Where can you get help? Who can you lean on when needed? Have you taken the time to explain it to those around you who may not be informed enough to realise the support you need? Also, remember that watching someone suffer and not being able to help can be a massive challenge on both sides. They may also need to find support.

Us – The Driving Instructor and Trainers Collective

The DITC is keen to provide contacts and support for all needs ADIs/PDIs may face. Please get in touch to talk things through and be signposted to solutions. We also hope our engagement with the real needs of Instructors will encourage other key players inside the industry to get involved. If this is you – please contact us to be added to our list of resources.

Perimenopause – An opportunity!

You may also have discovered that ‘women of a certain age’ lose confidence in driving. Some of this is because they find themselves independent again after the kids have left (though we all know they keep coming back!), and some may be because the driver of the house is becoming frail and they may need to step in or be able to. This is also because of those symptomatic changes from menopause and their effects.

We have seen a large increase in those women asking for help and support, realising that instructors are not only for learner drivers. Driver support, confidence building and improvement can all be staples for improving the diversity of both your diary and your day.

BMS shared resources

BMS advice section where you can get email advice from our menopause specialist. There is a minimum donation of £10 for this service.

Factsheets which are very informative and cover a wide variety of topics.

A series of videos on menopause-related topics.

Menopause and the workplace
Also here –

Menopause Matters – A very informative site with a forum that women may find useful.

The DITC welcome your feedback, stories and support.

Posted by Chris Bensted

May 2, 2022

Categories: Miscellaneous