New survey from Fertifa and The Latte Lounge highlights the severe impact on workplace performance and lack of support from employers
The Latte Lounge, a leading online community for women over 40 and Fertifa, a specialist provider of employee reproductive health benefits, recently surveyed 500 women who are experiencing perimenopause or menopause, to find out how the condition has impacted on their working life. 97% of the women surveyed were aged between 41 and above; 60% were experienced mid-level professionals and 25% were in senior management or leadership roles.
Following is some of the key data which the survey has revealed:
Impaired cognitive function is more problematic than physical symptoms
When asked to state which symptoms the respondents experienced, the top 6 answers were all related to mental health and cognition.
Tiredness or a lack of energy 87%
Brain fog or difficulty concentrating 87%
Difficulty sleeping 83%
Poor memory 79%
Low mood or depression 77%
In terms of physical symptoms, the top response was sweating (75%) followed by weight gain (73%).
Dr Gidon Lieberman, Deputy Medical Director at Fertifa, says: “Most people tend to instantly think of hot flushes and sweats when it comes to the menopause. In truth, it’s the impairment to mental wellbeing and brain function which can be the most debilitating. This is where workplaces should really be focusing their efforts when it comes to supporting their employees”.
HRT uptake is low
53% have not used Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to manage their symptoms, while 47% have turned to natural therapies.
Gidon Lieberman comments: “This low uptake is most likely due to a combination of fears over the perceived risks associated with HRT and a lack of access to menopause trained GPs or specialists.
For most women, the risks of taking HRT are extremely low. The benefits of replacing lost hormones on the other hand are numerous; from improving hot flushes, night sweats, concentration and mood, as well as the long term protection against thinning bones (osteoporosis) and lowering the risks of heart disease. Naturally, it is important to undergo a full consultation with a trained GP or consultant before starting a treatment programme but an overwhelming majority of patients do report vast improvements once HRT is commenced.”
Talking about menopause at work remains an uncomfortable topic
According to the survey, 70% did not speak with their employer about their symptoms. 53% of these felt is “wasn’t necessary” to speak up while 26% said they were “too embarrassed” and 28% “feared it may make them look incapable of doing their job properly”.
Katie Taylor, Founder of The Latte Lounge says:
“I know first hand how awkward it can be to talk about your menopause symptoms whilst at work – it’s one of the main reasons why I left my own job. That’s why when we work with companies who are looking to support their employees better, we always say that breaking down the taboo, to get the conversation going, has to be the first step.”
Menopause can lead to low job satisfaction and high turnover
The survey has uncovered a number of ways in which the perimenopause or menopause has negatively impacted women over 40 at work, which in turn has a clear impact on employers.
50% cited decreased job satisfaction, as a direct result of perimenopause or menopause while 42% say that it has led them to consider leaving their job.
Only 16% say that they were aware that their employer has a menopause policy
51% say there is nothing in place and 33% are unsure.
Katie Taylor says: “This is a disappointing, but sadly not surprising result. Implementing or updating a policy is not an onerous task and the companies that we have worked with are seeing this as another important step in helping employees to feel more comfortable in approaching their employer for support.”
A full copy of the press release is available here.