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.

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