Menopause Can Negatively Affect Women’s Careers

Derick Alison
Derick Alison
5 Min Read

PHILADELPHIA — Four in 10 women said that menopause or perimenopause had a negative impact on their work experience and that there’s a stigma about discussing menopause in the workplace, a Canadian survey study found.

Negative experiences could be anything from leaving a meeting due to a hot flash to taking a job with less responsibility, reported Meenakshi Goel, MD, of Mount Sinai Hospital at the University of Toronto.

And only 23% of respondents said their employers offered support to help manage their menopause symptoms, she noted in a presentation at the Menopause Society annual meeting.

Approximately a quarter of the Canadian workforce is going through menopause or is already postmenopausal, Goel pointed out.

“We as a society have stigmatized aging to such an extent, especially for women, that we do not talk about it in a positive manner at all,” she said.

The survey involved more than 1,000 women ages 40 to 60 years, most of whom were actively employed. The results illuminated some of the ways that menopause can impact a person’s career, said Goel.

Work performance and relationships. About a third of the respondents said they were concerned that menopause symptoms — such as brain fog, vasomotor symptoms, or fatigue — could impact their performance at work, 16% said their symptoms had negative affects on work relationships, and 30% felt their colleagues might perceive them as “past their prime.”

Discussions around menopause. About a third said menopause was taboo to discuss at work, 49% felt too embarrassed to discuss menopause symptoms with their employer, and 40% said they didn’t have anyone at work to talk with about this health issue.

Support at the workplace. The authors found that 75% of women wanted additional supports at work, such as time off, flexible working arrangements, and trainings about menopause for management, with most women saying these kinds of supports would improve their general well-being. A quarter of women reported that they hid their symptoms at work, and 8% said they needed extra sick days or time off.

“Creating menopause inclusive work spaces will not only help with the advancement of women, but also help to reduce ageism at work,” Goel said, adding that having menopause education and training and supportive policies can help reach that goal.

Goel noted that by 2030, there will be more than a billion perimenopausal and menopausal women worldwide, and many of them will be active in the workforce.

“If we want women to assume these roles [leadership positions], it is very important to be more open about menopause and how it affects both individuals as well as organizations,” said Goel.

Stephanie Faubion, MD, MBA, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Women’s Health in Jacksonville, Florida, and Rochester, Minnesota, said women are undertreated for menopause, which seeps into work.

“We need to do a much better job of treating these women so that they’re not suffering in the workplace,” said Faubion, who also is medical director of the Menopause Society.

“It will also be beyond medical professionals,” added Faubion, who was not involved in the study. “What can employers, managers, [and] supervisors do to help women in the workplace?”

The survey was conducted in August 2022 by Leger Canada, a market research and analytics company, and Menopause Foundation of Canada.

Of the 1,023 respondents, a majority lived in either Ontario or Quebec. More than half (55%) were working full-time, 11% part-time, 7% were self-employed, and 12% were retired. About three-quarters were college educated, 80% were white, and 88% heterosexual. Most lived in urban or suburban areas (41% and 39%, respectively).

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    Rachael Robertson is a writer on the MedPage Today enterprise and investigative team, also covering OB/GYN news. Her print, data, and audio stories have appeared in Everyday Health, Gizmodo, the Bronx Times, and multiple podcasts. Follow

Disclosures

Goel and Faubion disclosed no relationships with industry.

Primary Source

The Menopause Society

Source Reference: Goel M “Menopause in the workplace: Assessing impact and exploring available supports — A Canadian experience” Menopause Society 2023; Abstract S-15.

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