One in 10 women have left work because of symptoms of the menopause, research has revealed.
The Menopause and the Workplace report by the Fawcett Society and Channel 4, which polled 4,000 women aged 45-55, found that 10 per cent had left their job because of symptoms of the menopause.
This was equivalent to 333,000 women if extrapolated across the UK, the report said.
The poll also found 14 per cent of women in this age group had reduced their hours and 8 per cent had not applied for a promotion because of symptoms.
More than two in five (44 per cent) of women said their ability to work had been affected due to the menopause, including 18 per cent who reported that their symptoms were currently affecting them, and more than a quarter (26 per cent) who said they had been affected in the past.
Commenting on the data, Janet Lindsay, CEO of Wellbeing of Women, said the report showed that thousands of women were passing up promotions, reducing their hours or giving up their jobs because of the menopause.
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“Women over the age of 50 are the fastest growing demographic in the workplace and more support should be offered to ensure they remain in work because women around this age are usually at their most productive and experienced during this life stage,” she said.
Lindsay uged every employer to offer menopause support and explained that by keeping women in work, businesses and employers will benefit by retaining their talent and experience.
Heather Jackson, co-founder of Gen M, added: “Sadly a lot of women and others in menopause are not getting the support they need in the workplace during this life stage.
“Things need to change for menopausal women, as well as trans and non-binary people in menopause to be able to continue to have fulfilling and successful careers.”
She added that menopause was more than just a workplace issue and affected every area of business: “We need to do more to normalise the conversation and increase awareness for women as well as their male colleagues, partners, family members and friends.”
The report also found that two in five (41 per cent) women polled said they had seen menopause or menopause symptoms treated as a joke by people at work. Similarly, three in five (61 per cent) respondents said they lost motivation at work due to their symptoms, and half (52 per cent) said they had lost confidence.
Among the women who had taken time off due to menopause, two in five (39 per cent) cited anxiety or depression as the main reason on their sick note rather than share their menopause status.
Fawcett Society chief executive Jemima Olchawski said women going through the menopause were “experiencing unnessesary misery”, describing the situation as a “national scandal”.
“From waiting too long for the right care, to uniforms that cause unnecessary discomfort, women are being badly let down. Too often menopause symptoms have been been dismissed as a joke and HRT [hormone replacement therapy] had been labelled a ‘lifestyle drug’.”
Olchawski added that the government needed to make urgent changes from requiring employers to have menopause action plans, to creating a route into menopause healthcare and to ensure that GPs are trained to spot menopause symptoms.
The findings, which were featured in the Channel 4 documentary Davina McCall: Sex, Mind and the Menopause, also found that three-quarters (77 per cent) of women found at least one menopause symptom ‘very difficult’, while more than two in five (44 per cent) experience three or more symptoms that are severe.
More than four in five (84 per cent) women reported experiencing difficulty sleeping as an effect of menopause, and three-quarters (73 per cent) experienced brain fog.
Laila Kaikavoosi, a GP, menopause expert and founder of the Online Menopause Centre, noted that women often entered the menopause “at the height of their career, often in senior roles and an integral part of a business”.
“It is a tragedy that some suffer such debilitating symptoms that they feel the only option available to them is to give up their job. Not only is this devastating for women, it is also a great loss to the employer,” she said.
The Online Menopause Centre recently released its own Annual Menopause Report, which found just 14 per cent of the women polled discussed their menopause or perimenopause symptoms with their employer, with three in 10 (29 per cent) believing their employer could not help.
Of the women who had spoken up, almost half (47 per cent) said their employer had done nothing; 18 per cent said they had been offered flexible working; and just 7 per cent received specific interventions, for example fans or air conditioning for hot flushes.