Dealing With Menopause in the Workplace - Ellen Dolgen
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Dealing With Menopause in the Workplace

Got a Vagina? – you will get Menopause!

Does menopause affect your workplace performance?

Sadly, there is no way to leave your menopause on your kitchen counter before you head off to work. While it is often seen as a private matter, it is easy to understand how menopause can have a considerable impact on women in the workplace. Many women feel embarrassed or ashamed to discuss menopause and its effects with their employers or colleagues. This can leave women feeling like they are not being heard or supported.

Menopause is a natural transition that all women experience at some point in their lives. The average age of menopause in this country is 51. Menopause begins after one solid year without menstruating. As your body begins to transition to menopause, you experience perimenopause. Perimenopause usually begins in your 40’s. During this 2–10-year transition, women often experience a myriad of symptoms. (It is important to note that some women may experience Primary Ovarian Insufficiency, which can result in early menopause before the age of 40.)  

So, as you can see, women spend over half of their lives in either perimenopause, menopause, or post-menopause. Menopause often causes physical and emotional changes that can affect job performance. Check out my Menopause Mondays Symptoms Chart and learn about the over 30 symptoms of menopause.

Although the most common symptoms are hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and mood swings, women may also have trouble concentrating, experience memory loss, and have an increased risk of depression. These symptoms can make it harder to focus on tasks and complete assignments. In addition to physical and emotional changes, menopause can lead to decreased selfesteem and a sense of isolation.

New Research Shows the Financial Impact of Menopause

Mayo Clinic researched this and put a price tag on the cost of menopause symptoms for women in the workplace.

Mayo Clinic invited 32,469 women aged 45-60 who receive primary care at Mayo Clinic to participate in the study in Minnesota, Arizona, Florida & Wisconsin.  A little over 5,200 women responded.  Out of those women, 4,440 were employed and participated in the study.

According to the study:

  • 13% of the women experienced adverse work outcomes.
  • 11% missed work because of their symptoms.
  • A little over 1% quit their jobs or were laid off because their symptoms became too debilitating.
  • Racial and ethnic differences were found.

Ekta Kapoor, the senior author of the study and assistant director of Mayo Clinic Women’s Health, said, “Women often fear bias, discrimination, and stigmatization, and therefore may be reluctant to disclose their menopause symptoms to their workplace managers and others,” she said. “Recognizing these concerns and creating a safe workplace environment for women to discuss their health care needs may help address this.”

Here are the costs for the United States:

  • Approx $1.8 Billion in lost work time per year (some employees are taking sick days; some are cutting back their hours or quitting altogether)
  • $26.6 Billion annually when medical expenses are added.

What Can Employers Do???

Fortunately, there are steps employers and colleagues can take to make the workplace a more supportive environment for women going through menopause. Here are a few ideas:

  • Employers should know the potential symptoms and learn how they can impact work performance.
  • Provide perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause education to employees.
  • Create an open employee dialogue about menopause.
  • Show support for those experiencing menopause symptoms by offering flexible work arrangements, such as working remotely or flexible hours.
  • Provide a comfortable work environment for their female employees. This may include adjusting the temperature or providing access to a fan or other cooling devices.
  • Create employee support groups so colleagues can show their support by providing emotional and practical support.

What Can You Do?

Time to take a stand!  No more hiding menopause. According to census data in the U.S., more than 15 million women ages 45- 60 are in the workplace. So, guess what – you are not alone!

Go to your Human Resource Department and bring in a menopause awareness advocate to speak to the company and help educate employees on menopause. This kind of program busts open the conversation and helps to break the stigma and create a support system within the company. LMK if you are interested.

Thank you, Mayo Clinic, for shining a light on the need to break open the conversation of menopause in the workplace!  Now it’s up to us to ask our employers for menopause education and support at work!

My motto:  Suffering in silence is OUT!  Reaching out is IN.

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* does not recommend, endorse, or make any representation about any tests, studies, practices, procedures, treatments, services, opinions, healthcare providers, physicians, or medical institutions that may be mentioned or referenced.


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