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Study links number of menopause symptoms with job performance

With a large percentage of women in the workplace aged between 40 and 59 years, the challenge of women managing menopause symptoms while at work is commonplace. A new study examined the relationship between the number of menopause symptoms and the job performance of working women. Study results are published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Menopause symptoms can affect women physically, psychologically, and sexually. A new study suggests they can also affect a woman's job performance. This study coming out of Japan included nearly 600 working women aged 45 to 65 years. Nearly 61% of these women were postmenopausal.

Researchers in the study found that a higher number of menopause symptoms were correlated with a lower work performance. More important, they found that working in an appropriate environment (one without high levels of stress) and maintaining a healthy lifestyle helped to reduce menopause symptoms. Conversely, they confirmed that women with numerous menopause symptoms were more likely to report a lack of exercise, chronic disease, and job-related stress.

Such results provide critical insights for employers. For instance, employers could consider taking a proactive role by creating more productive working environments for postmenopausal women suffering with hot flashes by lowering room temperatures and adapting dress codes to allow for lighter-weight, shorter-sleeved clothing. Employers could also offer stress management classes that would help all employees, including women struggling with mood changes as a result of fluctuating levels of estrogen. The researchers point out, however, that because women are reluctant to discuss their menopause symptoms with their supervisors, employers may be less likely to attempt to make modifications in the workplace.

Although this is not the only study to evaluate the effect of various menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, on job performance, it is the first to specifically consider the number of menopause symptoms and how they affect productivity.

 Abstract

Objective: The presence of various menopausal symptoms could decrease work performance because symptom management strategies differ, and it is difficult to control all symptoms at work. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between the number of menopausal symptoms experienced and work performance in working women.

Methods: An online cross-sectional study was conducted with 599 working Japanese women aged 45 to 65 years. To represent work performance, absolute presenteeism was measured using the Japanese version of the World Health Organization and Work Performance Questionnaire short form, and menopausal symptoms were measured using the Greene Climacteric Scale. The total number of subscales on which a participant scored more than one point represented the number of menopausal symptoms.

Results: Participants' mean age was 54.2 years, and 60.6% were postmenopausal. Their mean Greene Climacteric Scale score and mean absolute presenteeism score were 10.5 ± 10.6 and 61.7 ± 17.9, respectively. The proportions of participants who provided care for a family member, who had chronic disease, and who undertook regular exercise were significantly different among the four groups. After adjusting for other factors, absolute presenteeism was negatively correlated with the number of menopausal symptoms experienced (β = -0.13, P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Higher numbers of menopausal symptoms were correlated with lower work performance. The maintenance of health and the provision of appropriate working environments would help working women and improve work performance by reducing menopausal symptoms.

Reference

Keiko Hashimoto, Mikako Yoshida, Yasuka Nakamura, Yoko Takeishi, Toyoko Yoshizawa. Relationship between number of menopausal symptoms and work performance in Japanese working women. Menopause 2020 Nov 23. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001698. Online ahead of print.

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