How to Support Your Workforce During Menopause - Stella
Menopause at work
7 mins

How to support your workforce during menopause

byDr Beverley Taylor

Our fight for equality in the workplace has been an amazing journey… but it also feels like it’s only just begun! Working while menopausal is a unique and amazing place to be. We have so many opportunities than ever before.

I am humbled by the menopausal women (and many women from the past) who made it possible for us to have a seat at the table. Their absolute belief in equal rights and the bravery they demonstrated in the face of adversity is humbling and makes me so proud to be part of this debate and discussion.

That doesn’t mean that being menopausal at work today is without downsides. The flip side of having such a wealth of opportunities means that we also have many more things to juggle than ever before. There is much workplaces can do to help and we’ve outlined some recommendations below.

Start your free online menopause assessment to see if HRT is right for you

Why people are talking more about menopause at work 

Some may have struggled through pregnancy and their children’s early years while remaining ‘visible at work’. Others might not have had children and remained ‘dedicated at work’ or some archetype in between. Whatever turn your career took, you will likely find yourself having to juggle again during menopause. This time it’s not a discussion about children versus career, but one of health versus career.

Yet again, it’s another challenge that many must find their way through. Success will depend to a large degree on how your body manages menopause (it can be down to bad luck if your symptoms are really challenging) together with the rest of your responsibilities in life. Perhaps you have school-aged children or young adults taking those big steps into adulthood? Maybe you are caring for elderly parents? Maybe you have financial pressures or relationship difficulties?

These are challenging enough, let alone adding in menopause symptoms which may be surprisingly bothersome even if you were prepared for them. All this comes at a time when you may be working hard to strive in your career and get that elusive promotion to join the senior team in your organisation!

How big a deal is menopause’s impact at work?

When I look at the stats about menopause and work, it blows my mind. There are around 13 million who are currently menopausal in the UK and working menopausal women are the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace.

A massive 80% of us will still be at work whilst going through menopause, 75% will experience significant symptoms and about 25% will consider leaving work early because of the menopause and how difficult it can be to manage symptoms, work and all our other responsibilities.

The situation isn’t going to improve. The increase in the state pension age to 66, potentially rising to 68 between 2037 and 2039, means many more women will be working through menopause and well into their late postmenopause years.

That is a huge workforce who need menopause support while working. Better menopause care means cost savings in retaining that vast experience within your business, plus it also supports the employee’s wider network of partners and families. It demonstrates that business is going a little further in that fight for equality at work. 

What exactly is menopause? 

Menopause means the ending of your menstrual period. That in itself isn’t too much of an issue but things get serious when you consider the number of different symptoms and the length of time they can be experienced for.     

Physically speaking, spontaneous menopause is defined as the time when your periods stop spontaneously and you aren’t on hormonal contraception. It has distinct phases:

  • Perimenopause: This is the start of menopausal symptoms at around age 45 onwards (but can be much earlier or later). Symptoms are due to a drop in a hormone called oestrogen and start well before you experience your last period or are perhaps aware of what is happening
  • Menopause: Typically, in your early 50s oestrogen levels will drop so low you stop releasing eggs and your periods stop. Your cycle length in the perimenopausal phase can vary from one month to six, seven or even 10 months, so you are not diagnosed to have ‘gone through menopause’ until you haven’t had a period for a year
  • Postmenopause: For up to six years after your last menstrual period you may have hormonal changes and menopausal symptoms. This is known as the early postmenopause phase. Six years after your last period, symptoms should settle down as you enter your late postmenopause

Read more about the stages of menopause.

Symptoms can happen earlier or later as menopause is specific to your and your reproductive history, general health and lifestyle, social and economic influences, ethnicity, BMI and even your attitudes, thoughts and feelings about menopause and ageing.

Surgical or induced menopause happens if you have a hysterectomy and your ovaries are removed, or if you have had certain cancer treatments. These medical interventions push your body into sudden menopause and symptoms can occur very quickly due to a sudden and severe drop in oestrogen. Read our guide to induced and surgical menopause.

If it’s all about periods why is menopause at work an issue?

Many different symptoms can happen during menopause, perhaps around 40 or more! These include menstrual cycle changes, mood swings, bladder problems and sleep issues.

Importantly though, there are a few symptoms you find more difficult to manage in the workplace, such as:

  • Hot flushes
  • Memory/concentration issues or brain fog
  • Worry, anxiety and a loss of confidence

Start your free online menopause assessment to see if HRT is right for you

A typical menopausal day at work

It’s no fun waking up to four times a night so hot and drenched in sweat that you’ve had to splash cold water on your face, dry off, change bedclothes and then settle back to sleep. When your alarm goes off in the morning, you want to crawl further under the covers, feeling tired and foggy from a night of disrupted sleep.

Hot flushes

As you move through your morning routine, hot flushes continue as you get ready in front of a fan to cool you down. You have another hot flush while on crowded public transport, another as you enter the warm office and one more as you enter your first meeting of the day because the room temperature is so high.

Brain fog

In a meeting, you are asked a few questions which you should easily know how to answer but another hot flush interrupts your flow mid-sentence and then you just can’t find the word to explain your thinking. You feel so frustrated and upset that you miss a few minutes of the meeting with punishing internal dialogue focusing on how useless you are and that you should have called in sick.

Nipping to the loo

In the toilet you notice sweat patches underneath your arms, your hair is plastered to your face with sweat and your makeup is already sliding off. You spend 10 minutes sorting yourself out and then go back to your desk. The rest of the day continues like this until you eventually get home and congratulate yourself on making it through another day. You go to bed worried about having another bad night and for it all to begin again in the morning.

Gender pay gap

Those with symptoms of menopause can face this on a daily basis. For some, this will continue for up to 10 years or even longer and it doesn’t seem a major leap to understand that many are struggling to balance menopause and work. 

They are more likely to be off sick, reduce their hours or not put in for promotions/take up work-based opportunities. They may spend less time on personal development and this can have a major impact on the workplace, not only from a productivity point of view but also on bigger issues such as the gender pay gap and getting women into more senior positions.

This is why it makes sense to provide excellent menopause support and help them continue to thrive at work.

How can workplaces better support menopause?

Businesses need to:

  • Develop policies and procedures for menopause in the workplace
  • Include menopause as a sickness absence reason in sickness reporting procedures
  • Include menopause as a long-term condition in your sickness absence policies
  • Provide menopause awareness training for all employees
  • Provide training for line managers about menopause

Menopausal symptoms can be made worse by the physical workplace and businesses can help by making adjustments:

  • Provide fans and good ventilation
  • Rooms with adjustable temperature control
  • Adequate and comfortable toilet facilities
  • Access to cold drinking water
  • The choice to wear appropriate clothing – for staff wearing uniforms, options should be available which are light, layered and non-synthetic or sweat-wicking
  • Provide rest areas
  • Provide access to natural light

Read a legal perspective on menopause and work.

Using Stella at work

Stella provides individualised plans based on your top bothersome symptoms, along with real-life coach support, resources and a supportive community to improve health now and in later life. Results show that 80% of those who complete a Stella plan report feeling better.

Businesses can offer Stella to staff. The app is available on the Apple App Store (Android is coming soon). Interested? Talk to us about adding Stella to your existing workplace benefits by emailing us

For more about menopause, read our blog or find out more in our symptoms library.

Try our menopause clinic

  • Online doctor’s appointments
  • Personalised treatment recommendations
  • Fast HRT delivery, if right for you