Menopause – a natural part of aging that mainly happens after the age of 50 – is pushing women out of the workforce in droves.
A study by fertility tech startup Fertifa and The Latte Lounge, an online platform supporting women over 40, found that 50% felt that the menopause or perimenopause (which is the transition to the menopause) directly affected their job satisfaction.
Also, 42% of the 500 women surveyed said the conditions have led them to consider leaving their jobs.
This links with the fact that there is still stigma around discussing fertility in general, but menopause in particular, in the world of work.
Fertifa and The Latte Lounge’s study found that 70% of women did not speak to their employers about their symptoms.
26% said they were “too embarrassed”, 10% noted “my manager may be embarrassed”, while 28% “feared it may make them look incapable of doing their job properly” and 25% worried “it may have negatively impacted my career”.
Talking about the findings, Katie Taylor, founder of The Latte Lounge, said: “I know first hand how awkward it can be to talk about your menopause symptoms whilst at work – it’s one of the main reasons why I left my own job.”
It is therefore obvious that employers must take action now, particularly since menopausal women are a growing demographic in the workforce at the moment.
So what employers do to better support their employees going through the menopause?
Taylor notes: “We work with companies who are looking to support their employees better, we always say that breaking down the taboo, to get the conversation going, has to be the first step.”
Menopause support is a major focus of UK insurer Aviva.
The insurance company has launched a menopause awareness campaign, including seminars for line managers and employers to improve conversations around the topic.
In addition, Aviva has partnered up with menopause app Peppy, which supports employees and their families through challenges, including symptoms related with menopause.
In addition, Fertifa and The Latte Lounge’s report found that surprisingly it wasn’t the physical symptoms that were bothering women the most at work.
In fact, the top rated symptoms were linked with mental health and cognition – 87% said they were tired or lacked energy, as well as had brain fog and difficulty concentrating, while 84% noted anxiety, 79% said they had poor memory and 77% experienced low mood or depression.
Fertifa’s deputy medical director Dr Gidon Lieberman noted: “Most people tend to instantly think of hot flushes and sweats when it comes to the menopause.
“In truth, it’s the impairment to mental wellbeing and brain function which can be the most debilitating. This is where workplaces should really be focusing their efforts when it comes to supporting their employees”