One in 10 women who have worked during the menopause have left a job due to their symptoms, according to what is believed to be the largest survey of menopausal women conducted in the UK.
The research, which will feature in a new Channel 4 documentary, found that 14% of women had reduced their hours at work, 14% had gone part-time, and 8% had not applied for promotion.
Davina McCall: Sex, Mind And The Menopause will present findings from the survey of more than 4,000 women.
Finestripe Productions, which was commissioned by Channel 4 to produce the documentary, asked Savanta ComRes to conduct a representative survey of 4,014 UK women aged 45-55 who are currently or have previously experienced the perimenopause or the menopause.
Menopausal women are experiencing unnecessary misery and it’s a national scandal
Jemima Olchawski, Fawcett Society chief executive
The research was supported by the Fawcett Society, which has produced a report called Menopause And The Workplace.
The report said the research found that 10% of menopausal women who are or have been employed during the menopause have left their job due to their symptoms.
It said that, mapped on to the total UK population of five million women aged 45-55, that would represent 333,000 women leaving their jobs due to the menopause.
A further 13% of menopausal women who have been employed during menopause have considered leaving their job, the report said.
The research found that disabled women were more likely to have left work due to the menopause (22%), as were women who said they experienced five or more “very difficult” menopause symptoms (19%).
Meanwhile, 45% of women surveyed said they had not talked to someone at their GP practice about menopause, and even among women with five or more severe symptoms, 29% had not spoken to their GP or a nurse.
Some 31% of women surveyed agreed that it took many appointments for their GP to realise they were experiencing the menopause or perimenopause, rising to 45% among women of colour and 42% among women with five or more severe symptoms.
Just 39% of women who spoke to a GP or nurse said they had been offered HRT once they were diagnosed with menopause.
Too often menopause symptoms have been dismissed as a joke and HRT has been labelled a lifestyle drug
Jemima Olchawski, Fawcett Society
HRT can help alleviate severe menopause symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats, low mood, anxiety and difficulty sleeping.
Prescriptions for HRT have more than doubled in England over the past five years, according to NHS data.
Figures from OpenPrescribing suggest nearly 538,000 prescriptions for HRT treatment were issued in December, compared with 238,000 in January 2017.
The British Menopause Society has advised medics to consider alternative HRT preparations for women who cannot get their usual stock of Oestrogel, including the gel Sandrena or the spray Lenzetto.
Other forms of HRT have also suffered a shortage as demand outstrips supply.
Increasing awareness of HRT and the role of celebrities in encouraging women not to suffer in silence has helped more women seek out treatment.
Fawcett Society chief executive Jemima Olchawski said: “Menopausal women are experiencing unnecessary misery and it’s a national scandal.
“From waiting too long for the right care, to uniforms that cause unnecessary discomfort – women are being badly let down.
“Too often menopause symptoms have been dismissed as a joke and HRT has been labelled a lifestyle drug.
“But with 44% of women facing three or more severe symptoms, our research helps to dispel that nonsense.
“Faced with that misinformation, is it a wonder that only half of women are even seeking help from their GP?
“The Government needs to make urgent changes, from requiring employers to have menopause action plans, to creating a route into menopause healthcare, to ensuring that GPs are adequately trained to spot menopause symptoms.
“For too long, menopause has been shrouded in stigma, we need to break the culture of silence and ensure menopausal women are treated with the dignity and support they deserve instead of being expected to just get on with it.”
Davina McCall told the BBC’s Sunday Morning show that if there was a shortage of insulin or any other drug it would get “sorted out immediately”.
She also said GPs need to learn more about menopause, adding that women going to see their GP should go “armed with information”.
Davina McCall: Sex, Mind And The Menopause is on Channel 4 at 9pm on Monday.