Objectives: This study explored women's experiences of working through menopausal transition in the UK. It aimed to identify the perceived effects of menopausal symptoms on working life, to outline the perceived effects of work on menopausal symptoms, and to provide recommendations for women, healthcare practitioners and employers.
Methods: An electronic questionnaire was distributed to women aged 45-55 in professional, managerial and administrative (non-manual) occupations in 10 organisations. Items included: age, age and gender of line manager, educational level, job satisfaction; menopausal status; symptoms that were problematic for work; hot flushes; working conditions; work performance, disclosure to line managers; individual coping strategies; and, effective workplace adjustments and employer support.
Results: The final sample comprised 896 women. Menopausal transition caused difficulties for some women at work. The most problematic symptoms were: poor concentration, tiredness, poor memory, feeling low/depressed and lowered confidence. Hot flushes were particularly difficult. Some women felt work performance had been negatively affected. The majority of women were unwilling to disclose menopause-related health problems to line managers, most of whom were men or younger than them. Individual coping strategies were described. Four major areas for organisational-level support emerged: (i) greater awareness among managers about menopause as a possible occupational health issue, (ii) flexible working hours, (iii) access to information and sources of support at work, and (iv) attention to workplace temperature and ventilation.
Conclusion: Employers and healthcare practitioners should be aware that menopausal transition causes difficulty for some women at work, and that much can be done to support them.
Keywords: Employers; Menopause; Women; Work.
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