Menopause symptoms are killing women’s careers, major survey reveals
Crippling menopause symptoms and a lack of support are ruining women’s careers, with women being forced to take time off work or even leave their jobs altogether, new research reveals.
A major survey by renowned GP and menopause specialist Dr Louise Newson lays bare the impact of menopausal symptoms such as memory problems, fatigue and anxiety on women in the workplace.
The findings of the survey which was undertaken by the not for profit company Newson Health Research and Education of 3,800 UK women, being presented at the prestigious RCGP Annual Conference in Liverpool on 14-15 October[i], reveal:
- 99% of respondents said their perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms had led to a negative impact on their careers, with more than a third calling the impact ‘significant’.
- 59% had taken time off work due to their symptoms: 18% were off more than 8 weeks.
- Reasons for taking time off included reduced efficiency (45%), poor quality of work (26%) and poor concentration (7%).
- Half (50%) of those who took at least 8 weeks off work resigned or took early retirement.
- Overall, one in five (21%) passed on the chance to go for promotion they would have otherwise considered, 19% reduced hours and 12% resigned.
- Worryingly, 60% of women said their workplace offered no menopause support.
The survey also reveals just 5.2% of women who had a sickness certificate issued for time off work had ‘menopause’ cited on their certificate, while more than a third had ‘anxiety’ or ‘stress’ documented.
And just one in four (26%) women discussed their hormones with their doctor, with 29.7% prescribed antidepressants. This is despite NICE guidance stating antidepressants should not be prescribed for menopause-related low mood[ii].
Dr Louise Newson said:
“For far too long menopausal women have been faced with an impossible choice: struggle on with often debilitating symptoms or leave behind careers they have worked so hard for.
“The average age of the menopause in the UK is 51, at precisely the point where many women are the peak of their careers with an abundance of skills and experience to offer.
“The problem is widespread, including at the heart of healthcare. Some 77% of NHS workforce are women and a significant number of these will be perimenopausal and menopausal. In fact, research[iii] shows that only 1 in 10 female GPs had discussed their symptoms with a manager.
“The issues raised in this survey show not only an urgent need to improve menopause support in the workplace but access to evidence-based menopause information and treatment to ease and improve symptoms. We owe this to all menopause women to help them reach their career potential.”
Newson, L & Lewis, R. (2021) Impact of Perimenopause and Menopause on Work [Paper Presentation], Royal College of GP Annual Conference, London, UK