Menopause is a natural condition that affects all women at some stage of their life. The vast majority of women, around 80%, have symptoms related to menopause. Around one in four women have severe symptoms which detrimentally affect their family, home and work life. I am constantly staggered and surprised how little women (and men!) know about symptoms of the menopause and the associated health risks (including increased risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis), and how few receive medical help.
Around 3.5 million women aged over 50 years are currently in employment in the UK. Around half of women have been reported as finding work “somewhat or fairly difficult” due to their symptoms of menopause. In addition to the classical symptoms of hot flushes and mood swings, menopausal symptoms can affect confidence, concentration, energy and ability which can negatively affect work performance.
Up to 10% of women actually stop work altogether because of their severe menopausal symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the most effective treatment at improving symptoms related to the menopause. It also has other proven health benefits including reducing the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. For women under the age of 60 the benefits of HRT usually outweigh any risks.
Very few women have sufficient knowledge regarding HRT to make an informed choice regarding treatment. This means that too few women currently are taking HRT and those that do take HRT notice that their performance at work improves dramatically.
As a GP with a particular interest in the menopause, I work closely with women in the workplace to provide information about the menopause, the health risks associated with it, the impact menopausal symptoms may have on their work and also about the management of the menopause. This includes detailed information about the benefits and risks of HRT and also alternative treatments that are available.
I currently work with West Midlands Police and Fire Service to help with their menopausal women at work.
Last updated: January 2018