Dr Louise R Newson
BSc(Hons) MBChB(Hons) MRCP FRCGP, GP and Menopause Specialist, Newson Heath Menopause and Wellbeing Centre, Stratford-Upon-Avon
Women over the age of 50 are the fastest growing group in the UK workforce. Menopause is hugely misunderstood across many organisations. There is commonly a lack of understanding surrounding the psychological impact of menopause.
Menopause can have very significant implications for women’s physical and mental wellbeing, which then negatively impacts on the workplace.
Research has shown that menopausal women feel less engaged at work, have a lower level of commitment, feel less satisfied and have a greater intention to quit their job altogether the more bothersome their symptoms are.
A significant number of women leave work at the peak of their career due to menopause
As the average age of menopause is 51, it means that symptoms often occur when women are at the peak of their careers. Yet many women do not recognise that their symptoms are related to menopause, instead putting them down to the stresses of work and home. The most common symptoms affecting women in the workplace are anxiety, memory problems and fatigue.
In addition, studies show that menopausal symptoms can have a significant impact on workplace attendance and performance. It can also lead to some women leaving their jobs early, or not putting themselves up for promotion.
Many women put their menopause symptoms down to stresses of work and/or home.
It can feel awkward to discuss symptoms with your manager
The prevailing culture of not talking about menopause in the workplace means many women do not feel comfortable discussing their symptoms with their manager or colleagues, and so they often do not ask for help addressing their symptoms.
We recently undertook a survey of over 1,000 women, which showed that the vast majority of women felt that their menopausal or perimenopausal symptoms were having a negative impact on their work and around half of reported having time off work due to their symptoms.
A significant proportion of women are actually leaving work – our survey showed that around a third of women had even thought about leaving their job.
However, with the right help and treatment many women find that their symptoms really improve, and so too does their ability to work (and stay at work). For the majority of women, taking the right dose of HRT provides more benefits than risks so it is essential women receive evidence-based advice and treatment.