Can menopause put you out of work? Experts reveal how to cope with symptoms that affect your office life

'There are a number of practical steps that help women stay on track professionally'

Close up of a senior businesswoman using a phone while having coffee in the office
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Can menopause symptoms become so unruly that women are forced to leave their jobs? A recent article suggests so, which in turn has opened the social media floodgates. Though readers are questioning the piece's statistics and delving into ageism in the office, one thing is certain: a hot flash or two is likely to happen at some point during a meeting or conference call.

A 2019 U.K. survey claims that upwards of 900,000 women were faced with this situation, which raised eyebrows. Whether or not you believe the numbers, you've likely wondered how  to curb menopause symptoms from 9–5. 

"The good news is, that while symptoms can lead many women to doubt their ability in leading and managing workplace projects or client-colleague relationships, there are a number of practical steps and options that help women stay on track professionally," said Julie Dennis, Menopause at Work Trainer and Health & Her expert. 

With guidance from the experts, we'll help you navigate difficult situations that might arise and ensure you get the help you need while at work

How to deal with menopause symptoms as you're getting ready for work

The wee hours of the morning are not an ideal time to face anything trying, especially when it comes to menopause. If you want to get out the door quickly and seamlessly—without feeling exhaustion or an impending hot flush—you're likely going to have to instill a few healthy habits into your routine, which will help mitigate anxiety and depression

"Some women find that starting the day with 5-10 minutes of deep breathing, yoga or even a short walk can help manage the stress response in the earlier part of the day and reduce the frequency and intensity of [menopause] symptoms," said Dr. Jennifer Salib Huber, naturopathic doctor and Registered dietitian. 

Dr. Huber also suggested to switch up your caffeine consumption and not indulge in a cup of coffee until you're sitting down and relaxed, as it has the capabilities to intensify symptoms. Hey, anything that'll do away with menopausal aches is a go for us. 

How to deal with menopause symptoms while at work

It's not ideal to feel unwell while on the job, and it could even be a bit embarrassing to acknowledge. (We totally get it.) Dr. Salib Huber suggests having layers for when hot flashes (and subsequent chills) strike and slowing down breathing to feel more at ease. (We recommend these breathing techniques to ease menopause symptoms.) 

Meanwhile, Julie Dennis recommends taking a five-minute breather, avoiding the need for perfection, and scheduling a candid discussion with HR or managers if symptoms become unbearable. 

"Our research has found that just a fraction of women who experience difficulties during menopause will speak to their employer about their symptoms," she said. "The truth is, this lack of discussion and transparency about the menopause is having, and will continue to have, a serious impact on the economy and there is a huge risk that a pool of expertise, talent and skill could be needlessly lost."

How do I discuss my symptoms to a boss or manager?

Unfortunately, there's no rulebook when it comes to having this discussion, but the experts believe it is an essential one to have. Plus, there are likely solutions you haven't considered.

"Workplace wellness plans can offer education sessions to educate all employees about midlife, and workshops on how to manage menopause in the workplace can empower and support women who are experiencing symptoms," said Dr. Salib Huber.

Health & Her offers an Employer Menopause Support Plan that includes webinars, appointments with specialist GPs, and free access to its menopause app. (We also recommend this menopause app from Caria: Menopause & Midlife.)

Menopause as a whole might not be the most pleasing experience, but it's inevitable. Give these tips and tricks a whirl next time work becomes stressful and remember—you got this!

Danielle Valente

Danielle is a writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life, where she particularly enjoys covering lifestyle and entertainment news. She was previously the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. When she's not working, you can find her reading a good book and enjoying a cup of coffee. Follow her @dvwrites.