Menopause Impacting Women’s Careers in Record Numbers
A staggering amount of women in both the United States and the UK say menopause is deeply impacting their careers.
The study came from Carrot Fertility, which issued a damning report shortly before the official start of Menopause Awareness Month in October.
Menopause isa biological process that typically affects women in their 40s and 50s, with 51 being the average age, according to the Mayo Clinic. A woman is diagnosed with it once she goes 12 months without a menstrual cycle.
During this time, women can experience emotional and physical symptoms - like hot flashes or depression.
Carrot Fertility, which bills itself as the leading global fertility care platform, commissioned a survey of 2,000 employed women who are either pre-or-post-menopausal to ask how their health impacted their careers.
The results were shocking.
4 out of 5 Women Say Menopause Affects Their Careers
Carrot Fertility said 80 percent of its respondents said menopause presented as a challenge at work.
Even more, 72 percent said they felt self-conscious and uncomfortable when experiencing a symptom of menopause in the workplace.
Among the leading issues among women were a loss of concentration, lower confidence levels and needing to take more breaks.
A major issue was the stigma of menopause, which respondents say forced them to make changes in their routine to manage their symptoms.
Fifty-four percent of respondents say they shifted their work routine, such as by reducing hours, shifting careers, moving to part-time work instead of full-time, switching to a less-demanding job, and quitting.
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Among that, 79 percent of women admitted to taking time off, but concealing the real reason that menopausal symptoms were behind their leave.
Women also felt menopause damaged their career growth, with 31 percent agreeing with the sentiment.
The Stigma of Menopause
A majority of respondents felt their work would not be understanding to their current health changes while undergoing menopause.
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Around 54 percent of women said they felt uncomfortable asking their employer for workplace benefits or support to help them through their menopausal challenges.
As for why these women didn't feel confident was that there appears to be a negative perception tied to menopause and its symptoms.
Even more, 47 percent of respondents admitted to experiencing ageism at work, with more women in America admitting they have encountered such treatment at their job.
Roughly 44 percent of respondents said they experienced more ageism at work than their male colleagues.
Tammy Sun, Founder and CEO of Carrot Fertility, says this should serve as a wake up call to raise awareness about the real impacts of menopause.
Supporting women at work through perimenopause and menopause is an investment in retaining senior talent. By offering age-inclusive fertility and lifelong hormonal health benefits, employers can keep women at the peak of their careers and foster greater menopause awareness in the workplace. Since we first introduced our menopause support more than a year ago, the majority of Carrot customers have started offering these benefits to their employees, showing promise that the tides are turning towards more menopause support in the workplace.
Sun also noted that due to the misconceptions revolving around menopause, it is influencing some women to not seek medical care when its necessary.
When medical intervention is needed
Only about 20 percent of respondents felt they were adequately informed about menopause before their symptoms began.
However, a majority of respondents admitted to avoiding talking to their doctor about their symptoms. Even more, one in three said they never discussed menopause with their doctor.
To them, they feel the subject is taboo.
Asima Ahmad, MD, MPH, FACOG, Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer, Carrot Fertility, hopes this study will help encourage more women to develop a level of understanding about menopause and to know when to seek care.
The average age for women to enter menopause is 51, but for some, it can begin much earlier. In some cases, perimenopause can last for over 10 years, and symptoms can vary greatly over time. That's why it's so important for women to get access to specialized menopause care and understand their options as early as possible. With treatment, symptoms can become less disruptive to their daily life and careers. It can also help women understand how to optimize their overall health, including their bone health and heart health.
Now the fight turns toward erasing the stigma.
Public Discourse Encouraged
Just 23 percent of respondents say they felt comfortable discussing menopause outside their social circles, which includes their family and friends.
However, a fraction of U.S. women, 15 percent, said they won't discuss the issue with friends with an even larger number, 20 percent, saying they wouldn't talk about it with their relatives.
On the flip side, 9 out of 10 respondents said they want to see more public awareness raised on menopause, which includes active discussions about symptoms and the impact it has on women.
They felt doing so would raise support and understanding. About 63 percent of respondents expressed that they would feel more confident about their own struggles if more celebrities or public figures came forward about their own menopause experiences.
What do you think? Is it time to start open discussions on menopause?