Breaking the Stigma: Menopause at Work

Lydia Beck
by Lydia Beck

The menopause is one of the biggest changes a woman goes through in her life, so it makes sense that it can also hugely impact work and finances! Yet we never seem to talk about it, so let’s change that now…

What is Menopause and Perimenopause?

Menopause is when your periods stop due to lower hormone levels. Most women go through the menopause between ages 45 and 55, with the average age of starting menopause in the UK falling at age 51. However, some women start the menopause earlier than this, with around 1 in 100 experiencing it before age 40.

Perimenopause is the stage leading up to the menopause, when the body’s hormonal balance starts to change.

The menopause can affect transgender men, non-binary individuals and those who are intersex, as well as women.

Menopause and Work: The Statistics

According to UNISON:

  • 75%-80% of menopausal women are in work
  • Around 8 in 10 women experience noticeable symptoms, with 45% of these finding their symptoms hard to deal

According to a 2022 UK Parliamentary survey:

  • 92% of respondents experiencing menopause reported that their symptoms affected them at work;
  • 72% said they were less able to concentrate
  • 70% experienced increased stress
  • 67% experienced a loss of confidence

According to CIPD research:

  • Of respondents who were negatively affected by the menopause at work, 52% said they felt less patient with clients and colleagues
  • 30% of women said they had taken sick leave because of their symptoms, yet only a quarter of these felt able to tell the manager the real reason for their absence

Given that so many women are in work when experiencing the menopause and that so many experience noticeable symptoms, it comes as little surprise that it can also impact their work performance. Women going through the menopause may struggle with poor concentration, find it difficult to think clearly and experience memory issues, all of which can massively impact work performance.

“We heard that due to problematic symptoms and workplace responses, some women felt it necessary to cut back their hours, or miss out on or forego promotion or similar advancement opportunities. Professor Brewis told the Committee about recent research showed that women who reported at least one problematic menopausal symptom at the age of 50 were 43% more likely to have left their jobs by the age of 55 and 23% more likely to have reduced their hours” -UK Parliamentary Report, 28th July 2022

This highlights the huge impact that menopause is having on working women and their earning potential. A lot of this comes from the stigma surrounding menopause as it is not normalised to speak about openly, just like how periods aren’t! This means that many people experiencing menopause may find it uncomfortable or embarrassing to speak up at work when they are struggling with symptoms, leading them to retreat from the working environment. Women taking time off work or reducing their hours due to menopause-related symptoms can also impact their future finances, as they may start to reduce pension contributions due to lower earnings.

BS 30416: A Guide to Menstruation and Menopause in the Workplace

A new British standard has recently been developed, providing guidance to organisations on developing policies and practices to make their workplace more inclusive and supporting of employees who menstruate and experience menopause or perimenopause symptoms.

This is a great tool for any of you employers out there to use to further support your employees in the workplace.


For more information or support with the menopause, The Menopause Charity has an extensive website here.

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