The Silent Crisis: How Menopause Symptoms Are Costing Women in the Workplace and the U.S. $1.8 Billion Annually!

In an era where women are dynamically contributing to the global workforce, a silent crisis is unfolding. Menopause symptoms are not just a personal health concern. They are significantly affecting women’s work outcomes, leading to a staggering estimated annual loss of $1.8 billion in the United States. Let’s delve into the details and understand the depth of this issue and why it’s high time to address it.

A comprehensive study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings aimed to evaluate the impact of menopause symptoms on work outcomes and assess the estimated economic impact. The study involved a survey of women aged 45 to 60 years receiving primary care at one of the four Mayo Clinic sites. Out of the 32,469 surveys sent, 5,219 responses were received, and 4,440 of these respondents, who reported current employment information, were included in the study.

Here are the key findings:

  • The mean age of the participants was 53.9 years, with the majority being White (93.0%), married (76.5%), and educated (59.3% college graduate or higher).
  • The mean total Menopause Rating Scale (MRS) score was 12.1, signifying a moderate menopause symptom burden.
  • A total of 597 women (13.4%) reported at least one adverse work outcome due to menopause symptoms.
  • 480 women (10.8%) reported missing work in the preceding 12 months, with a median of 3 days missed.
  • Women in the highest quartile of total MRS scores were 15.6 times more likely to have an adverse work outcome compared to those in the first quartile.

This revelation demands immediate attention and action from employers, healthcare providers, and policymakers.

The Personal and Economic Toll

The study’s findings underscore the significant adversity faced by women experiencing menopause symptoms while working. With 13.4% reporting at least one adverse work outcome due to these symptoms, the personal distress is palpable. Beyond the individual, the ripple effect on the economy is substantial, evidenced by the estimated $1.8 billion annual loss due to missed workdays. This is not just a women’s issue; it’s an economic and societal concern that warrants a collective response.

Employers’ Role

Employers stand at the forefront of initiating change. It is imperative to foster a supportive work environment that acknowledges and addresses the challenges faced by women undergoing menopause. Flexible work schedules, access to medical support, and awareness programs can make a significant difference. Employers must recognize the value of retaining experienced, skilled women in the workforce and invest in their well-being.

Enhancing Support and Treatment

Healthcare providers play a crucial role in offering comprehensive care and support to women navigating menopause. Improved medical treatments, mental health support, and holistic wellness programs are essential. Providers must work in tandem with employers to ensure seamless access to necessary healthcare resources within the workplace.

Policymakers: Crafting Inclusive Policies

The onus is also on policymakers to craft and implement policies that safeguard the rights and well-being of women experiencing menopause. Legislation should mandate workplace accommodations and support, ensuring that women do not have to choose between their health and their careers.

A Collective Leap Forward

Addressing the impact of menopause symptoms on women in the workplace and the economy is not a task for one sector alone. It requires a cohesive, multi-faceted approach involving employers, healthcare providers, and policymakers. As we shed light on this silent crisis, let us also be the beacon of change, ensuring that every woman is supported, valued, and empowered in the workplace, irrespective of her life stage. The time to act is now. Together, let’s pave the path for a more inclusive, supportive, and thriving work environment for all.

Reference: Faubion, S. S., Enders, F., Hedges, M. S., Chaudhry, R., Kling, J. M., Shufelt, C. L., … & Griffin, J. M. (2023). Impact of Menopause Symptoms on Women in the Workplace. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 98(6), 833-845.

12 Practical Tips to Manage Menopause Symptoms at Work

Dealing with menopause symptoms while on the job isn’t always easy. The hot flashes, mood swings, and other symptoms can sometimes throw a wrench in your daily routine. You’re not alone, and there’s good news — with a few handy tips, you can tackle those symptoms and ensure a smoother workday.

Let’s explore some actionable tips to help you maintain your comfort and poise during the workday, even when menopause tries to test your limits.

  1. Stay Cool:
    • Dress in Layers: If hot flashes strike, you can easily remove a layer to cool down.
    • Portable Fan: Keep a small fan on your desk or a handheld one in your bag.
    • Cold Water: Sip on cold water throughout the day. It can help cool you from the inside out.
  2. Manage Stress:
    • Take Short Breaks: Step away from your desk, take a walk, or practice deep breathing exercises.
    • Mindfulness and Meditation: Consider apps or online resources that offer short meditation sessions to help you relax.
  3. Stay Organized:
    • Note-taking: If forgetfulness is an issue, make lists or set reminders on your phone.
    • Prioritize Tasks: Focus on essential tasks when you’re feeling your best and save less critical ones for when you’re feeling low on energy.
  4. Healthy Snacks:
    • Keep snacks like nuts, fruits, or yogurt on hand. They can help stabilize your blood sugar and provide a quick energy boost.
  5. Stay Hydrated:
    • Drink plenty of water to help with dry skin and to stay refreshed.
  6. Comfortable Seating:
    • If joint pain is a problem, ensure your chair is ergonomic and provides good support.
  7. Open Communication:
    • If you’re comfortable, talk to your supervisor or HR about your symptoms. They might offer accommodations like flexible hours or more frequent breaks.
  8. Stay Active:
    • Consider taking short walks during your breaks. Physical activity can help with mood swings and fatigue.
  9. Manage Sleep Issues:
    • If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, try to avoid caffeine in the afternoon. Consider using earplugs or an eye mask to improve sleep quality.
  10. Personal Care Kit:
    • Keep a small kit at your desk with essentials like extra sanitary products, wipes, deodorant, and a change of clothes just in case.
  11. Seek Support:
    • Consider joining a support group or seeking counseling. Talking to others going through the same thing can be comforting and informative.
  12. Educate Yourself:
    • The more you know about menopause, the better equipped you’ll be to handle its challenges. Consider reading up on the latest research or treatments.

Remember, every woman’s experience with menopause is unique. Listen to your body, seek support when needed, and find what works best for you. If symptoms become too challenging, consider consulting a healthcare professional for further advice and potential treatments.

Drew Barrymore’s Perimenopausal Episode Caught Live on Air

In a recent interview alongside Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore openly mentioned experiencing what she believed was her first hot flash, visibly cooling herself down afterwards.

During a March 27 episode of her talk show, Drew Barrymore had a memorable moment alongside guests Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler.

While on air, Barrymore felt the onset of what she thought was her very first perimenopause hot flash, prompting her to declare, “I am so hot, I think I’m having my first perimenopause hot flashes,” In response to the incident, she removed her blazer.

Jennifer Aniston light-heartedly chimed in, “Oh, I feel so honored (to witness this),” while helping Barrymore adjust her outfit.

Barrymore maintained her poise throughout, turning to her guests and asking, “I’m so sorry, do you feel this? Or perhaps it’s just my excitement.” Gratefully, she said, “Well, I’m so glad I have this moment documented.”

The topic of perimenopause wasn’t new for the actress. She’d previously spoken with Gayle King on CBS Mornings’ Facing Fertility series about recognizing signs of perimenopause when her menstrual cycle changed. Voicing her worries about enduring the symptoms for potentially a decade, Gayle King, aged 68, reassured her that while the stage might not last ten years, some effects might linger.

King offered a candid take on her own experience, detailing how extreme symptoms can sometimes draw concerned reactions from others, referencing an instance on the red carpet.

Highlighting the importance of transparent discussions on menopause, Barrymore voiced her hope to shift perceptions. She insisted that menopause shouldn’t be seen as a sign of aging or declining vitality. Barrymore championed the idea that continued conversation can dispel associated myths, adding that many women in their middle ages remain active and live passionately, debunking age-old misconceptions about menopause.

Such on-air admissions are rare, but Barrymore’s situation is one many can relate to. She stands among the 15 million working U.S. women between the ages of 45 to 60 who may encounter menopausal symptoms.

Despite its prevalence, many women remain silent about their menopause journey. This silence can have broader implications, affecting both their personal well-being and posing challenges in the workplace, impacting the U.S. economy. The Mayo Clinic reports that the economic cost, considering lost work hours and other factors, is around $1.8 billion every year.

What the Menopause Journey Looks Like for Working Women

More women are working now than ever before, especially in countries that are part of the Organization for Economic and Commercial Development (OECD), where 60% of women have jobs. Many women are also returning to work later in life or working full-time throughout their careers. With policies pushing people to work longer, more women will be working during their menopause years, which typically happens between 45-55. While not all women have symptoms, some can have severe ones that affect their work.

Recent studies show that women with intense menopausal symptoms might take more sick days, lose productivity, or even think about quitting their jobs. Different symptoms can affect work differently. For instance, mood swings might affect job performance more than hot flashes. However, there’s not much research on how menopause affects women in different jobs.

A  a cross-sectional study called Health and Employment After Fifty (HEAF) surveyed women aged 50-64 across England. They focused on 409 women who started menopause in the last 10 years and were working. About 27% said menopause made work a bit challenging. The top symptoms? Hot flashes (91.7%), sleep issues (68.2%), mood swings (63.6%), and urinary problems (49.1%). So, menopause can be a bit of a work hurdle for many women out there.

What Does the Data Mean to Working Women in the Menopausal Stage?

Alright, let’s break it down:

For working women, the HEAF study highlights that menopause isn’t just a personal experience; it’s something that can significantly affect their professional lives too. Here’s what it means:

  1. You’re Not Alone: If you’re a working woman going through menopause and finding it tough to cope at work, you’re not the only one. About a third of the women in the study felt the same way.
  2. It’s Not About the Job: Whether you’re in a high-powered executive role or a more hands-on job, the type of work doesn’t seem to be the main factor affecting how you cope with menopausal symptoms. It’s more about individual experiences and circumstances.
  3. Work Environment Matters: Feeling insecure, unappreciated, or stressed at work can make coping with menopausal symptoms even harder. So, a supportive work environment can make a big difference.
  4. Financial Stress Plays a Role: Women who are already dealing with financial pressures or have dependents relying on them might find it harder to manage their symptoms at work.
  5. HRT Can Help, But Access Varies: Hormone Replacement Therapy can be a game-changer for some women, but not everyone has equal access to it. Your financial or educational background might play a role in whether you get it.
  6. Speak Up: Given the impact of menopause on work, it’s essential for employers to be aware and supportive. If you’re struggling, it might be worth having a chat with HR or your manager about what adjustments could help.

Menopause at Work: The Hidden $1.8 Billion Cost and Its Impact on American Women

Friends, did you know that menopause is actually causing a massive dent in the U.S economy? Yup, you heard right. A study fresh out from the Mayo Clinic this week estimates that menopause is costing American women a whopping $1.8 billion in lost work time each year. That’s no small change!

This study is the biggest of its kind to be done in the U.S., and it took a close look at how symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings (and trust me, there’s a lot more) are affecting women while they’re trying to get their work done.

Over 4,000 women from four different Mayo Clinic locations spread across Minnesota, Arizona, Florida, and Wisconsin, took part in this study. About 15% of these participants said they had to either miss work or work less because of their menopause symptoms. These cases were labeled as “adverse work outcomes”. The more severe the symptoms, the more likely women were to have work issues. In fact, those with the most severe symptoms were 16 times more likely to have these problems compared to those dealing with milder symptoms. Just over 1% even confessed that their symptoms were so severe that they had to quit their jobs or were laid off in the last six months.

Dr. Juliana Kling, one of the big brains behind this study, said that this data was extrapolated based on the U.S. workforce to get to that jaw-dropping annual loss estimate. And get this, U.S. census data tells us that there are more than 15 million women aged 45 to 60 in the workforce. That’s a lot of women dealing with these symptoms on the daily!

But here’s another kicker: the study found that menopause seems to impact Black and Hispanic working women more. Dr. Kling mentioned that these women reported more menopausal symptoms, and more of them reported that these symptoms affected their work compared to white women.

Now, the Mayo Clinic isn’t alone in its findings. Other studies have come to similar conclusions. For instance, a smaller survey by a company called Carrot Fertility found that about 20% of women had to take time off from work because of menopause.

The big takeaway from all this? Menopause is a big deal and it’s affecting women’s lives on multiple fronts. From the physical discomfort to the economic impact to the social stigma around discussing menopause, especially in the workplace, it’s clear that we need more open conversations and better support for women going through this change. As Dr. Ekta Kapoor, another co-author of the study, points out, talking about menopause is often seen as taboo, especially at work. And that needs to change.

Dr. Kapoor even thinks the economic impact could be underestimated because many women don’t have access to health insurance and potential treatments for their symptoms.

And lastly, remember, these symptoms can lead to some serious personal impacts — menopause and its connection to work isn’t a topic that’s been studied a lot, but we’re starting to see a change in that – more and more studies are popping up. This narrative literature study gives us a peek into the current understanding of how menopause, work, and health are connected and points out areas where we need more info for future research. And based on what we’ve found so far, here are a few initial takeaways:

  1. Menopause might be messing with some women’s ability to work, but we can’t say for sure.
  2. It could also explain why older women take more sick days.
  3. Even with menopausal symptoms, most women keep on trucking at work.
  4. And you know what’s wild? Women usually keep their menopause struggles to themselves, finding their own ways to cope.

It seems like having severe menopausal symptoms might make work tougher for some women. This could lead to more sick days, thoughts about leaving their job, and other health issues. And it doesn’t help when the workplace doesn’t give much control or flexibility, which can make menopausal symptoms worse. But despite this, women are pretty resourceful in finding ways to deal with menopause at work, whether that’s adopting healthier lifestyles or working extra hours to make up for any dip in productivity. There’s a lot of value in personal and workplace strategies, like self-help approaches and educating bosses. But sadly, menopause isn’t something that’s openly talked about at work, partly because of the taboo surrounding it and a lack of knowledge about it.

When it comes to policies around menopause at work, there’s hardly any info out there. And it’s crucial to avoid making women feel stigmatized when addressing the issue of menopause at work. Right now, menopause is viewed more as a woman’s problem rather than something workplaces and society should be considering. And this lack of knowledge impacts women’s health and their place in the job market because they’re not getting the support they need at work. But here’s the thing: work is super important to women for financial independence and personal fulfilment, just like it is for men. So ignoring menopause in research and policy makes it seem like older women’s work and health aren’t taken seriously.

So what’s the bottom line? Women are incredibly resilient, but they’re under a lot of pressure, especially with more intense work demands and an aging workforce. Good health is not just important for women to stay employed and live a decent life during retirement, but it’s also key for workplaces and society. So we definitely need to start taking menopause and its relationship to work more seriously, in both research and policy.