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How PMS Affects Women in the Workplace: The Struggle is real.

It’s no secret that menopause can affect women in the workplace – which we’ll delve into in a second – but this also lends itself to addressing PMS and related symptoms. They can also have a big impact on a woman’s career and equally needs to be a topic of discussion.

Menopause and PMS can often strike at an important point in a woman’s career during this huge hormonal upheaval. This can be experienced during perimenopause and menopause – and PMS even earlier – and affect how women handle work, relationships with colleagues, and general workplace stress arising from deadlines and office politics. To add to this, women usually wear so many hats and deal with everyday life challenges – juggling the kids, responsibilities of extended family or a partner, and social stresses.

It’s no wonder that things can go a bit haywire, and symptoms often go unrecognised or the connection to menopause is made. Women are working later in life more than ever, and many go through menopause during their working lives. Both menopause and PMS remain overlooked issues in organisations, but with some practical changes and emotional support in place, women can continue enjoying fulfilling careers.

So how do we get support in the workplace? And how do women approach the subject with the manager and get the adjustments implemented? Mentioning the term ‘menopause’ or ‘period pains’ has always been associated with shame and embarrassment. However, we all should remember that this is a natural biological process that all women and men (yes, they have their challenges) go through, so there should be no stigma attached to any of it.

The symptoms of both can be so intrusive that they can lead to a real lack of confidence and anxiety. Women can often become less engaged at work and leave feeling dissatisfied with their job performance. This leads to lower levels of commitment to projects due to the fear of lack of concentration, lack of energy, and the feeling of letting colleagues down. For many women, brain fog and cognitive changes seem to have the biggest impact on the home and working environment.

Concentration, memory problems, forgetting people’s names, searching for words, and inability to think are classic symptoms of perimenopause and menopause due to lower oestrogen and testosterone. Only half of women disclose the real reasons for absence to their line managers when taking time off work to deal with their symptoms because they feel embarrassed asking for help. Furthermore, one in 10 women considered giving up work due to their menopausal symptoms or pursuing alternatives like:

  • reducing their hours

  • changing roles

  • quitting work altogether

  • not putting themselves forward for promotion

  • calling in sick more often

It’s no surprise that so many women find work difficult due to symptoms of menopause. In fact, 70-80% felt their menopausal symptoms have a negative impact on their working life due to:

  • lack of concentration

  • tiredness

  • memory loss

  • depression

  • low/reduced confidence

  • sleep deprivation

  • hot flashes

In recent years, more organisations are finally paying attention and putting in place a menopause policy to ensure the health and safety of all employees. Employers are now realising that if menopause is handled correctly and sensitively, it helps to reduce absenteeism and retain professionally experienced women in the workplace. Below, we’ll explore practical solutions to help both employers and employees enjoy a happier and more productive working environment.