There are over 4.2 million women in employment in the UK between 50 and 65, but many women are reluctant to talk about the menopause at work and fear being embarrassed by hot flushes and other symptoms.
Researchers from King’s College London have conducted one of the first major trials of a therapy to help women at work cope with troublesome menopause symptoms. The trial, published in the journal Menopause, showed that women who followed a self-help cognitive behaviour therapy booklet experienced a significant positive impact in their working lives.
For many women, the menopause is not a problem, but 20-30% of women have troublesome menopause symptoms that are particularly difficult to deal with at work. Despite this, women’s experience of menopause at work is under-researched’ – Emeritus Professor Myra Hunter, Department of Psychology
The 60 women who received the booklet rated their menopausal symptoms as significantly less problematic at 6 and 20 weeks later. They reported improvements in sleep quality and viewed menopause as more controllable, compared to a control group of 64 women who did not receive the booklet.
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‘We know from previous clinical trials that CBT significantly reduces bothersome menopausal symptoms,’ said Dr Claire Hardy, lead author of the study. ‘So we were extremely pleased with the findings, especially as this was an unguided self-help approach offered in a non-clinical setting.’
The authors say their study shows employers have a responsibility to provide resources for working women to help manage menopausal symptoms in the workplace. They are currently working on a new study that evaluates an on-line training to increase managers’ awareness of the menopause.
‘Recent guidelines from the Faculty of Occupational Medicine suggest that managers offer appropriate support to women who have troublesome symptoms, and also that staff are made more aware of the menopause,’ says Professor Hunter.