American women may lose up to $1.8 billion annually due to menopause, according to a recent study by the Mayo Clinic.
The study, which used a large community-based sample of women aged 45 to 60 years old, found that menopause symptoms were strongly associated with adverse work outcomes and lost productivity.
The study surveyed more than 4,000 individuals across four sites in the US and found that 15% of participants experienced adverse work outcomes due to menopausal symptoms.
Severe menopause symptoms linked to 16 times greater risk
Those with severe symptoms were 16 times more likely to experience such outcomes than those with mild symptoms.
Shockingly, over 1% of participants reported being laid off or quitting their jobs in the preceding six months due to the debilitating effects of menopause.
The estimated annual loss of $1.8 billion was based on the collected data, according to Dr. Juliana Kling, co-author of the study and chair of the Women's Health Internal Medicine division at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Women also reported feeling hesitant to bring up menopause at work due to the taboo surrounding the topic, exacerbating the psychological challenges associated with menopause.
Many women experience debilitating physical changes while dealing with the discomfort of discussing menopause with their colleagues, especially younger or male ones.
"I've heard from women that they don't want to come across as a 'complainer' at work or they'll bring up menopause and people will roll their eyes."Dr. Ekta Kapoor
"I've heard from women that they don't want to come across as a 'complainer' at work or they'll bring up menopause and people will roll their eyes," said Dr. Ekta Kapoor, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and co-author of the study.
Dr. Kapoor also suggested that the estimated $1.8 billion annual loss may be an underestimate. This is because the study's participants had access to healthcare insurance and treatment options to manage their symptoms, which may not be the case for many women in the US.
Thus, the actual financial impact of menopausal symptoms on women in the workforce could be much higher than the study's conservative estimate.
The study was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, which may have impacted participants' mental or physical health and work-related circumstances.
Additionally, the study was conducted on women receiving primary care at a large medical center, potentially underestimating the true burden of menopause symptoms and their impact on work productivity and the economy.
The researchers highlighted the critical need to improve medical treatment for women with menopause symptoms and to make the workplace environment more supportive for women going through this life stage.
They also call for further studies to confirm these findings in more diverse populations of women and evaluate the impact of menopause symptoms on the work experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals and women with multiple medical comorbidities, financial insecurity, and limited access to healthcare.