Menopause symptoms can interfere with women's jobs, Japanese researchers report.
For the study, the investigators looked at nearly 600 working women, aged 45 to 65, in Japan. Of those, 61% were postmenopausal.
Women with a higher number of menopause symptoms had poorer work performance, according to the authors of the study published online recently in Menopause, journal of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
But having a job with lower amounts of stress and maintaining a healthy lifestyle helped reduce women's menopause symptoms, the researchers found. And, women with numerous menopause symptoms were more likely to be inactive, and to have chronic health conditions and job-related stress, they noted.
The findings provide insight into how to help maintain postmenopausal women's productivity at work, according to Keiko Hashimoto of Tohoku University, in Miyagi, and colleagues.
For example, employers could improve working conditions for women with hot flashes by lowering room temperatures and adapting dress codes to permit lighter-weight, short-sleeved clothing.
Another idea is for employers to offer stress management classes that would benefit all employees, including women struggling with mood changes due to fluctuating levels of estrogen.
The study authors noted that women are often reluctant to discuss menopause symptoms with their supervisors, so employers may be less likely to make such workplace changes.
"This study highlights a link between menopause symptom burden and lower work performance. Notably, women in this study who had more menopause-related symptoms also tended to be caregivers and to have chronic diseases," said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, medical director of NAMS.
"Although workplace modifications are one potential tactic to address this issue, appropriate treatment of menopause-related symptoms and counseling regarding caregiver stress may lead to improved overall health as well as improved work performance," Faubion said in a society news release.
This study isn't the only one to assess how menopause symptoms affect job performance, but it is the first to specifically examine the number of menopause symptoms and their effect on productivity.