‘If menopause was a male issue, the retirement age would have been set at 50 decades ago’ – CEO of menopause clinic

More than one million women living in Ireland have had their lives disrupted by menopause, new figures show.

Central Statistics Office (CSO) data from last year’s Census reveals there are now 1,062,576 females in Ireland aged 45 and over– up from 912,141 recorded in Census 2016, an increase of 16.5%. 

It has led to one expert claiming the country’s retirement age would have been drastically reduced were the ‘change of life’ endured by men.

“If menopause was a male issue, the retirement age would have been set at 50 years of age decades ago,” said Loretta Dignam, CEO of the Menopause Hub – the first clinic in Ireland solely devoted to helping menopausal and perimenopausal women.

She was speaking as she launched her clinic’s new Menopause in the Workplace survey.

Now in its third year, the survey is a unique record of how women in employment across the country cope with menopausal or perimenopausal symptoms. 

Ms Dignam said that while recent Government initiatives to remove the age-old stigma surrounding menopause – such as last year’s awareness campaign – were welcome, the new CSO figures show much more needs to be done.

“In just six years, the number of women in the menopausal age bracket who are still in the workforce soared by almost 100,000,” said Ms Dignam, who opened her second clinic in Santry, Dublin 9, last Autumn – three years after opening her first treatment centre in Mount Merrion, south Dublin.

“Some of these women are battling devastating symptoms while trying to hold down a career.”

The latest Census figures show the number of women in the menopausal age bracket of 45-64 in Ireland is now 651,845 – up from 571,411 – with 418,989 of these women still in employment, up from 331,291 in the previous census.

Last year, almost 40% of the women who took part in the Menopause in the Workplace Survey said they had seriously considered quitting work due to impact of symptoms. 

An overwhelming majority of the 1,087 women (94%) quizzed said more menopause awareness training for managers and HR bosses is required. 

Almost 70% believe there is a stigma associated with the issue in the workplace.

The survey also revealed that 84% of women said that menopause was negatively affecting their performance and ability at work, while 81% said they did not feel comfortable discussing the issue with line managers.

“When I began researching the impact menopause was having on Irish workplaces, it was the first time any such a survey had been carried out,” said Ms Dignam.

“The more data we can gather about the struggles women in their 40s, 50s and 60s face when it comes to holding down a job and career, the more chance we have of changing things for the better.”

For most women, menopause begins in their early 50s but symptoms of perimenopause can start as early as late 30s and early 40s. 

But distressing and long-lasting symptoms including anxiety and depression, hot flushes, brain fog, insomnia and migraines are sometimes experienced in the mid-40s, during the perimenopause stage. 

Menopause in the Workplace 2023 survey forms are available to download from themenopausehub.ie

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