The majority of men remain unaware of the potentially debilitating impact menopause and perimenopause can have on their female colleagues, research has suggested.
A study by the Online Menopause Centre found that 61% of 500 men surveyed admitted they would not know what to do if menopause/perimenopause was affecting a female colleague’s ability to do their job.
More than half also admitted to having been unaware that many women are forced to reduce their hours or give up work entirely because of menopausal symptoms.
Worryingly, despite men in the older age bracket (45+) being more likely to be in senior management roles, they were the group who had the least understanding of menopause and perimenopause, compared to younger co-workers, the centre argued.
The research, carried out with employed males aged 18 to 65, also revealed a general lack of understanding about menopause.
Nearly six out of 10 (59%) did not know that perimenopause is the period leading up to menopause, and which can be severe in terms of symptoms.
Menopause and work
One in 10 wrongly believed symptoms such as diarrhoea and hearing loss were menopausal symptoms. Those questioned were also unsure of the causes of menopause, with only a third correctly knowing it was caused by drop in hormones.
Dr Laila Kaikavoosi from the Online Menopause Centre said of the findings: “It is concerning that men are so unaware of what happens to women during the menopause and perimenopause.
“Many of those we questioned are very likely to have female work colleagues experiencing menopausal problems, so understanding what women go through and how it affects their working life is vital to ensuring employers offer the right support.
“What is particularly worrying is that men in the older age bracket are more likely to be in leadership positions within the workplace, often managing or working alongside women, yet this group had the least understanding of menopause.
“Employers need to be aware of this and offer training and guidance to all employees so they are equipped with the tools needed to support women going through this challenging time,” Dr Kaikavoosi added.
It is estimated some 13 million women in the UK are currently peri or menopausal, or equivalent to a third of the entire female population.
Symptoms can range from hot flushes and night sweats through to headaches, sleep problems and joint pains, depression, anxiety, poor memory, low self-confidence and loss of libido.
Whilst there was greater awareness among males of the common menopause symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats (71%) and change in mood (66%), fewer knew about brain fog/poor memory (34%) and joint and muscle aches (25%).
The research followed on from the research earlier this year by the centre that found nearly half of women polled (48%) admitted menopause/perimenopause had affected their job, with those working in professional roles most severely affected (71%).
Only 14% had discussed their symptoms with their employer. The most common reason for not speaking about it was they didn’t think their employer could help, with nearly half of women saying their employer had done nothing to help them manage their menopause experience.