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Women in the Workplace

New source of office heating found – increasing numbers of women in menopause. As more and more women enter menopause (2 million a year!), many of whom choose to continue their careers, it makes sense that menopause is going to become an office issue… so how do we deal with menopause in the workplace?

Women in the Workplace… Menopause Edition

“You look hot” takes on a new meaning the closer we get to menopause. Hot flashes are so, well, hot flashy, they get all the attention. But menopause related changes are SO much more than that. As the gap between estrogen levels and progesterone levels grows, we enter the menopause transition and a whole host of other symptoms can start to appear.

Why Does Menopause Matter in the Office?

What we don’t talk about enough is how women experiencing these symptoms can struggle like crazy in the workplace. A recent New York Times article identified that, “menopause costs American women an estimated $1.8 BILLION in lost working time per year”. This is serious stuff – not only does it reduce women’s effectiveness in the workplace, it reduces their income, it reduces their savings ability, it reduces their financial independence, and it reduces their choices.

Here at Parlor Games, we’re not okay with that.

CEO (Crying, Energy Loss, & Out of It!)...

Late 40’s and early 50’s are a critical time in anyone’s career. Twenty plus years of experience is being leveraged into top leadership positions. CEO’s are, on average, about 54 years old when hired, CFO’s are 48.9 years old. For men – any subtle downshifts in hormone levels are rarely noticeable. Not so for women. It is precisely that age 45- 55 range when the potential for hormone related symptoms are at their worst.



Mood swings, insomnia, anxiety, short cycle, long cycles, tender breasts, swelling and bloating, foggy thinking, cramps, migraines and other headaches, tearful, dizziness

Menopause Transition


Mood swings, insomnia, anxiety, long cycles, foggy thinking, hot flashes, harder to manage stress, tearful, increased irritability, swelling and bloating, trouble concentrating, joint pain, digestive problems

Post Menopause


Hot flashes, decreased energy, increased forgetfulness, decreased motivation, reduced mental processing, increased fatigue, urinary incontinence, joint pain, digestive problems

I have been fortunate to work for companies specifically in the hormone health field – everyone knew and understood the impact of changing hormones. We could all share ideas and knowledge on how to navigate the changes and support our hormone levels to feel healthy, well, and above all effective in the workplace.

How Menopause Impacts Your Career

That isn’t the case for most women. While the awareness of the impacts of changing hormones continues to grow, discussing menopause symptoms in the workplace still feels taboo for many women. Human Resources departments could take the lead on this, but so far there has been little discussion and training outreach. At the very least, all supervisors should be educated as to the effects of menopause to avoid misunderstandings and unnecessary reprimands. Supervisors need to know that many menopausal women have heavy menstrual flows. If an employee must suddenly dash to the washroom during an important meeting or in the middle of a shift, she should not be kept from doing so, and she might need to be in the washroom awhile. Digestive upsets can increase diarrhea, increased urinary urgency is a reality for many women, and women should feel comfortable leaving a workstation to take care of their needs without feeling strain or stress.

When women entered the workforce and started to climb career ladders, they often felt compelled to “prove” that their differences from men would not adversely affect work performance. They often held themselves to standards that men never held themselves to in order to prove their value and worth. They hid their symptoms fearing being seen as “weaker” or ridiculed for “going through the change”. If you ever want a good laugh – listen to Michelle Wolf's comedy sketch on “If men got periods”.

What Can I Do?
Women can begin to advocate more for themselves. Instead of being embarrassed about symptoms or feeling “less than,” we have the opportunity to support each other by discussing symptoms. In a mixed age workplace, there is the opportunity to educate with information on menopause which can be left in a break room and in restrooms. It’s time that the work culture acknowledges that menopause is a natural part of aging and is as much a rite of passage as any other life change.

Part of the challenge about menopause in the workplace is because the experience of hormone changes is hugely variable. Each woman's experience will be unique to her. During the COVID pandemic – everyone was affected in more or less similar ways, we were all in it together. It was easier to communicate central themes, easier for everyone to understand the issues. Hormone changes are individual and can change from week to week, month to month. Nothing is fixed and known about how our bodies will react. It’s not like we can plan for everyone to have a hot flash at 11.30 a.m. each day so turn on the air conditioning 30 minutes beforehand.

Dress code has been changing recently and many workplaces are less formal. Business attire, high heels, and uniforms can, however, still be very constraining for women experiencing temperature shifts, bloating, swollen ankles and limbs, or sore joints. Women wearing uniforms need to have options that allow layers – short sleeves, long sleeves, cardigans, which allow them to temperature adjust as needed, and for space in the waist! Women’s waistlines can change 2-3 inches over the month, any required workplace clothing needs to accommodate this variation.

Women who are on their feet all day every day can have a particularly hard time during menopause and should feel empowered to ask for comfortable, supportive chairs and padded floor mats, and to expect to be provided with them. Post menopause there is increased risk for bladder and uterine prolapse as pelvic floor muscles lose their strength. While exercises and estriol are critical for helping keep muscles in good shape, being able to release downward pressure by sitting down is critical for women’s pelvic health. And, post menopause when estrogen and progesterone levels are lower, bone strength diminishes. Standing for long periods of time can cause dizziness and fatigue can increase the risk of a fall.

Mood swings can be awful. It’s like being swung around on the tail of a dragon. It’s nothing you asked for but somehow - there you are, your moods flailing around. Workplace messages like “watch out, she’s on the rag” are about as helpful as a wet towel in a thunderstorm. Designing work to have a range of tasks, some of which involve interaction with others, and some that don’t, can really help. It’s hard to be a Nice Nancy on Customer Service when your brain wants to stab anyone who doesn’t instantly agree with you.


Women are a critical part of the workforce – they should not have to miss out on career growth, income growth and security growth because of their hormones. Like ALL women’s rights – Menopause in the Workplace rights are worth fighting for.