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Can Menopause Affect You at Work?

As if those of us staring menopause in the face need any more bad news…

A recent study may show a connection between menopause, a decline in work, and an increase in sick days. The study was conducted by researchers at the Nij Smellinghe Hospital in Drachten, the Netherlands. Approximately 200 women between the ages of 44 and 60 who either worked at the hospital or a close by home-care organization were included in the study.

The study tested something called “work ability.” That is, how one’s job demands correlate with her abilities and how that may predict her job performance in the future. This included missed work days. A web questionnaire, asking about typical menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety, mood swings, and sexual dysfunction, was filled out by each woman. Each one also told how many times she took a sick day. Also included in the study was how the woman felt about her current work ability in relation to her past work ability. Any new diagnoses by her physician were also considered in the study.

What the researchers found was that women who reported more severe symptoms missed more work and were liked to rate their work ability as lower now than in the past. The study did find that is was the emotional symptoms of menopause, not physical symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, which affected work ability and sick days. The full findings will be published in the journal Menopause in March.

Dr. Jennifer Wu of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City said that bad menopausal symptoms can cause “insomnia, mood swings, irritability” which could result in a women calling in sick to work.

However, Dr. Jan Shifren, director of the Vincent Menopause Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and a board member of the North America Menopause Society felt that the results weren’t true of all menopausal women. The “true conclusion” she felt was that middle-aged women who suffer from depression and anxiety are more likely to miss work. She said feelings like these affect both men and women and the study only took into account the woman’s perception of her work ability, not that of her employers.

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About Libby Pelham

I have always loved to write and Families.com gives me the opportunity to share my passion for writing with others. I work full-time as a web developer at UTHSC and most of my other time is spent with my son (born 2004). I love everything pop culture, but also enjoy writing about green living (it has opened my eyes to many things!) and health (got to worry about that as you get older!).