MPs are calling for clear workplace policies to protect women going through the menopause, which figures suggest take a personal and professional toll on one in four females.
The MPs said a menopause policy should be as commonplace as maternity schemes in businesses and organisations.
According to the Guardian, women’s careers have been ruined by symptoms such as anxiety, confusion and loss of confidence. Some have faced disciplinary action and many have been forced to take time off, while others have sold their homes so they can afford to work part-time or stop working altogether.
Labour MP Carolyn Harris said: “You wouldn’t dream of having a workplace where people weren’t entitled to certain things because they were pregnant, and it’s exactly the same for women with the menopause. I firmly believe there should be legislation to make sure every workplace has a menopause policy, just like they have a maternity policy.”
Conservative MP Rachel Maclean wants women to be able to have time off or change shift patterns or conditions of work when they need relief from symptoms.
“I absolutely agree that employers need to do more. It’s not well understood,” Maclean said.
About 80% of women experience some symptoms of the menopause, brought about when ovulation stops as a result of hormone levels dropping. One in four have severe symptoms, including anxiety and depression, which can lead to them being diagnosed with mental health problems and put on drugs.
Amanda Griffiths, a professor of occupational health psychology at the University of Nottingham, said there needs to be an atmosphere at work where people could talk about health.
Two separate surveys of women going through the menopause and perimenopause – the time leading up to when ovulation stops – found they were struggling in work and felt unsupported by managers.
In one survey of more than 1,100 women, undertaken by the menopause clinic Newson Health, 94% said they felt their work had suffered as a result of their symptoms, and 53% said their colleagues had noticed a deterioration in their performance.
Just over half had taken time off sick, and one in 10 had missed more than eight weeks of work.