According to Dr. Louise Newson, menopause is not a women's concern. The UK economy is losing an astounding £10 billion due to the lack of menopausal knowledge and support for working women, according to a new study released this week by Balance, the nation's top menopause support app.
Although most people would find this to be unexpected, I was not at all surprised by it. Many businesses in our nation are unaware of the enormous hidden costs associated with failing to support their female employees, and it is so preventable. This cost encompasses both the absences resulting from menopausal symptoms as well as the expenses of hiring and retraining others to perform the tasks that menopausal women have abandoned. Anxiety, memory issues, and brain fog are the symptoms that impact women at work the most and are all manageable with the proper hormone replacement type and dosage.
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In the UK, the group of women over 50 in the workforce that is expanding at the greatest rate is being let down, or worse, simply disregarded.
We can so plainly discern a connection between professional advancement and employee retention and untreated and undiagnosed menopausal symptoms. In addition to the dangerous effect this has on women's health—both mentally and physically—we also need to consider the financial impact this is having on businesses across the nation and the economy as a whole. We know that 10% of women will leave the workforce due to the menopause, with over a quarter of women taking time off work due to their symptoms.
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The significant, preventable financial burden this places on the NHS is not even factored into that calculation.
We know that by giving women HRT early in perimenopause or menopause, it is far more cost-effective for the NHS since this group is less likely to subsequently acquire expensive-to-treat illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Faster diagnosis and treatment also prevent women from being tested unnecessarily for menopausal symptoms like low mood, headaches, joint pains, urinary symptoms, palpitations, and other expensive misdiagnoses that I see so frequently with menopausal women, which results in significant financial savings for the NHS.
What, then, is the answer?
- Businesses need to take action to empower and assist their female employees by breaking the taboo and discussing a problem that affects more than half the population.
- Teach your management and HR departments to be transparent and encouraging. Join forces with a medical app like Balance that gives your personnel evidence-based medical advice, enables them to keep track of their symptoms, and lets them obtain a customised health report they can take to their GP for a prompt diagnosis and course of treatment.
- Additionally, at the national level, we want greater training for professionals in order to guarantee that women receive the care they require promptly, avoiding additional expenses and placing an additional burden on the NHS, which is already under considerable strain. HRT prescriptions are now a postcode lottery, and this must change.
- Menopause is ultimately not a female problem. Its effects on society as a whole, both physically and emotionally and financially, cannot be overlooked any longer.
Dr. Louise Newson, founder of the free menopausal support software Balance, is a general practitioner with expertise in menopause.