Menopause in the Workplace

Australian work culture often prides itself on resilience and a 'can-do' attitude; however many women feel pressured to hide their menopausal symptoms or push through them, fearing stigma or misunderstanding in the workplace. 

The Australian Workplace Landscape: Statistics and Realities

To understand the scope of menopause's impact in Australian workplaces, let's look at the numbers. In Australia, over 3 million women aged 40-59 years are potentially in the midst of menopause right now! That’s a lot of women who are either currently or about to be experiencing menopausal symptoms at work. 
Yet, despite its prevalence, menopause in the workplace remains shrouded in silence, often overlooked in workplace policies and health programs. In a study supported by the Victorian Women’s Trust, out of over 700 menopausal women, 83% of respondents felt their work was negatively affected and 60% felt workplace support was ‘poor’ or ‘below average’. Yet, 70% of respondents felt uncomfortable speaking with their manager about their needs.

This silence has consequences. Without support, women are often left to manage symptoms on their own, leading to increased absenteeism and reduced productivity. More concerning is the number of women who feel compelled to leave their jobs or reduce their hours due to a lack of understanding and support in the workplace. One in eight women retired or took time off work due to the challenges of their menopausal symptoms at work, and another two in eight would do so if they could financially afford to. 

Women can start experiencing perimenopausal symptoms in their 40s. Many women may spend a decade or more of their working lives experiencing menopausal symptoms. That is too long a journey for any woman to be left unsupported. 

These numbers highlight a need for change – for workplaces to recognize menopause as a significant health and well-being issue and take proactive steps to support affected employees. It’s important that a woman going through menopause feels comfortable discussing her needs and confident that she’ll be supported. By doing so, we not only retain valuable talent but also foster a more inclusive and supportive work environment for everyone. 

What Can We Do? 

First up, let's talk about it. Women should feel comfortable asking for what they need, whether that's a fan at their desk or the flexibility to start later because of a rough night's sleep. It’s important to not assume that every woman wants to talk about their symptoms and respect their privacy, but when one woman speaks up, it can empower others to share if they wish.

Everyone Plays a Part. Managers play a key role in the workplace culture. Simple things such as regular check-ins and being available for informal one-on-one conversations can contribute towards a supportive environment at work. There are many things leadership roles can do to create a menopause-friendly environment. It’s not just down to the leaders, however. Even colleagues just being there for each other, whether that's through understanding, adjusting shared spaces, or just listening, can make a big difference.

Build a community. When women share their stories and tips with each other, it not only helps them feel less alone but also builds a network of support. Plus, when everyone in the workplace gets behind this, it can create a stronger, more inclusive culture.

Ultimately, women should be able to openly discuss their needs related to menopause with their employers if they wish to and ask for accommodations if required. So, what are some easy things that can be done on a day-to-day basis to help with menopausal symptoms at work?

Managing Hot Flushes

What You Can Do:

  • Dress in layers for easy adjustment.

  • Keep a personal fan at your desk or workspace.

  • Stay hydrated with cool drinks.

  • Practice deep, slow breathing when a flush starts.

  • Take a menopause supplement that can help relieve hot flushes.

  • Speak with your doctor or health professional

What You Can Ask Your Workplace to Accommodate:

  •  Provide a well-ventilated workspace or a personal fan.

  • Allow flexibility for dress code adjustments.

  • Ensure easy access to cold water.

Dealing with Fatigue

What You Can Do:

  • Prioritize good sleep hygiene at home.

  • Take short, regular breaks to rest and recharge.

  • Use relaxation techniques to improve sleep quality.

What You Can Ask Your Workplace to Accommodate:

  • Flexible start and finish times to manage sleep patterns.

  • A quiet space for taking breaks.

  • Consideration for workload adjustments on particularly tough days.

Handling Concentration Difficulties

What You Can Do:

  • Break tasks into smaller, manageable steps.

  • Use lists and reminders to stay on track.

  • Take regular short breaks to clear your mind.

What You Can Ask Your Workplace to Accommodate:

  • Provide a quiet, distraction-free workspace

  • Support in prioritising and organising workload

Coping with Mood Swings

What You Can Do:

  • Identify stress management techniques that work for you, like mindfulness or yoga

  • Communicate your feelings and needs to supportive colleagues or managers.

  • Engage in regular physical activity to boost mood.

What You Can Ask Your Workplace to Accommodate:

  • Access to a private space for relaxation or time-outs.

  • Support services such as counselling or employee assistance programs.

  • A supportive and understanding work environment.

Physical Comfort in the Workplace

What You Can Do:

  • Use ergonomic furniture to reduce physical discomfort.

  • Take regular breaks to move around and stretch.

  • Keep comfort-enhancing items like a cushion or footrest at your desk.

What You Can Ask Your Workplace to Accommodate:

  • Ergonomic office equipment.

  • Regular rest breaks, especially for physically demanding roles.

  • Easy access to restrooms and other facilities.

Diet and Exercise

What You Can Do:

  • Maintain a balanced diet rich in calcium, phytoestrogens, and vitamins.

  • Taking supplements if your dietary intake is inadequate.

  • Incorporate regular exercise into your routine.

  • Stay hydrated throughout the day.

What You Can Ask Your Workplace to Accommodate:

  • Healthy eating options in the workplace cafeteria or vending machines.

  • Facilities for physical activity, like gym memberships or organized group exercises.

  • Access to a refrigerator for storing healthy meals and snacks.

Professional Medical Support

What You Can Do:

  • Consult health professionals for personalized advice on managing symptoms.

  • Explore treatment options such as menopause supplements.

  • Stay informed about menopause and its management.

What You Can Ask Your Workplace to Accommodate:

  • Flexibility for medical appointments.

  • Health insurance plans that cover menopause-related treatments.

  • Access to information and resources about menopause health.


Menopause, the same as maternity leave and child rearing, is about basic humanity. It’s important to recognise that menopause is part of every woman's life. By talking openly and supporting women in the workplace, we will see a reduction in premature retirement and a more flexible and productive workforce.