Menopause forces women to leave jobs or cut hours, study finds

Menopause symptoms and lack of support force some women to take time off and even quit their jobs, according to research.

A survey of 3,800 women in the UK found that most believed that menopause or the months and years before it (known as perimenopause) had a huge impact on their careers.

The research was done for menopause medicine Dr. Louise Newson, who directs the nonprofit Newson Health Research And Education.

She has worked with celebrities like TV host Davina McCall to raise awareness of what menopausal women are going through.

The 12-question survey presented at the Royal College of GPs annual conference was promoted in Newson’s newsletter and on social media to attract respondents.

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The survey found that 99% of women felt that their perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms had a negative impact on their careers, with more than a third saying the impact was significant.

About 59% had been unable to work due to their symptoms, 18% for more than eight weeks.

Reasons for taking a break included reduced performance (45%), poor quality of work (26%) and poor concentration (7%).

Half of those who were unemployed for at least eight weeks quit or took early retirement.

Overall, one in five (21%) women gave up a promotion that they would otherwise have considered, 19% reduced their working hours and 12% quit.

The majority (60%) of the women surveyed said that their job did not offer any support during menopause.

Of the women who received a sick note, only 5% had menopause on their medical certificate, while more than a third had documented anxiety or stress.

Only one in four women (26%) spoke to their doctor about their hormones; 30% were prescribed antidepressants.

This is in spite of guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence that say that low mood due to menopause can be treated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or cognitive behavioral therapy.

Dr. Newson said, “For far too long menopausal women have faced an impossible choice: grappling with often debilitating symptoms or abandoning careers they have worked so hard for.

“The median age at menopause in the UK is 51, exactly at the point where many women with a wealth of skills and experience reach the peak of their careers.

“The problem is widespread, including at the heart of healthcare. About 77% of the NHS workforce are women, and a significant portion of them will be perimenopausal and menopausal. In fact, research shows that only one in ten female GPs has discussed their symptoms with a manager.

“The issues raised in this survey demonstrate not only the urgent need to improve menopausal support in the workplace, but also access to evidence-based information on menopause and treatment to relieve and improve symptoms.

“We owe it to all menopausal women to help them achieve their professional potential.”

Earlier this month, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, spoke about the “tragic” impact menopause has had on women in the workplace.

The Royal, who is married to Prince Edward, has supported a new campaign by the Wellbeing of Women charity calling on companies to make sure they support their menopausal workers.

Menopausal symptoms can include memory problems, fatigue, and anxiety.

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