New study links number of menopause symptoms with job performance

With a large percentage of women in the workplace aged between 40 and 59 years, the challenge of women managing menopause symptoms while at work is commonplace. A new study examined the relationship between the number of menopause symptoms and the job performance of working women. Study results are published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Menopause symptoms can affect women physically, psychologically, and sexually. A new study suggests they can also affect a woman’s job performance. This study coming out of Japan included nearly 600 working women aged 45 to 65 years. Nearly 61% of these women were postmenopausal.

Researchers in the study found that a higher number of menopause symptoms were correlated with a lower work performance. More important, they found that working in an appropriate environment (one without high levels of stress) and maintaining a healthy lifestyle helped to reduce menopause symptoms. Conversely, they confirmed that women with numerous menopause symptoms were more likely to report a lack of exercise, chronic disease, and job-related stress.

Such results provide critical insights for employers. For instance, employers could consider taking a proactive role by creating more productive working environments for postmenopausal women suffering with hot flashes by lowering room temperatures and adapting dress codes to allow for lighter-weight, shorter-sleeved clothing. Employers could also offer stress management classes that would help all employees, including women struggling with mood changes as a result of fluctuating levels of estrogen. The researchers point out, however, that because women are reluctant to discuss their menopause symptoms with their supervisors, employers may be less likely to attempt to make modifications in the workplace.

Although this is not the only study to evaluate the effect of various menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, on job performance, it is the first to specifically consider the number of menopause symptoms and how they affect productivity.

Results are published in the article “Relationship between number of menopause symptoms and work performance in Japanese working women.”

“This study highlights a link between menopause symptom burden and lower work performance. Notably, women in this study who had more menopause-related symptoms also tended to be caregivers and to have chronic diseases. Although workplace modifications are one potential tactic to address this issue, appropriate treatment of menopause-related symptoms and counseling regarding caregiver stress may lead to improved overall health as well as improved work performance,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.