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Menopause at work: Women face challenges but receive minimal support, study reveals

Women cited working during menopause to be challenging reporting both physical and emotional symptoms

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Women in the workforce face ‘significant’ challenges due to menopause, but receive minimal support from employers, according to a new survey from Carrot Fertility.

Carrot, a US fertility healthcare and family-forming benefits provider, commissioned the survey ahead of Menopause Awareness Month to understand the effects of menopause on careers, identify the support available and bring more awareness to menopause.

An estimated one billion women worldwide will have experienced menopause by 2025, with millions more going through perimenopause.

Of the 1,000 people experiencing perimenopause or menopause across the US who were surveyed, the vast majority of respondents (79 per cent) describe working during menopause as challenging, more than other common life stages, including starting a new job (75 per cent describe as challenging), starting a family (70 per cent), or getting a promotion (62 per cent).

When asked what age decade is the most challenging for being in the workplace, respondents ranked their 50s as number one, well ahead of second-ranked 20s, according to the study.

Most women reported the need to take time off or faced other serious challenges in the workplace during menopause and perimenopause.

More than half of women (54 per cent) have encountered at least one menopause-driven work challenge, including loss of work time and job security concerns.

Among the nearly 40 per cent of respondents who took time off due to perimenopause or menopause symptoms, 71 per cent lost more than 40 hours of work time, and 30 per cent reported losing more than a month of work time altogether.

Of those who took time off, 59 per cent felt they needed to conceal the reason for the time away.

Other workplace challenges tied to menopause reported by respondents include perceived losses to credibility in the workplace, worries over job loss due to menopause stigma, and lost work friendships.

“We’ve made tremendous progress around the ability to understand and address the fertility challenges impacting younger individuals in their work life, but we are woefully behind when it comes to supporting employees with their fertility healthcare needs as they age,” said Tammy Sun, founder and CEO, Carrot Fertility.

“The findings of this report spotlight the real challenges menopausal women in the workplace struggle with, including lost productivity and concerns over job security. The survey also validates the need for employers and business leaders to provide age-inclusive fertility benefits for employees.”

Most women surveyed were unfamiliar with workplace menopause benefits but highly supportive of the concept, with 82 per cent of respondents see such benefits as valuable.

When asked what type of menopause benefits they deem valuable, a large majority of respondents cited fundamental benefits, such as medical care and support, counselling and therapy, and support groups, as well as other offerings like menopause mentoring and office menopause rooms to manage their symptoms.

While there is high support for employer-provided menopause benefits from people experiencing menopause and perimenopause, such offerings are rare and typically limited to flexible scheduling.

Only eight per cent say their employer has offered significant support for menopause, compared to 59 per cent who report no support at all. Among the 21 per cent whose employers have offered significant or minor support, flexible scheduling is the most common.

The survey showed if employers opted to offer menopause benefits, they would gain significant advantages, including employee retention.

Other advantages for employers who offer benefits are increased job satisfaction and productivity. Among the respondents, 92 per cent have at least one reason for believing menopause benefits should be provided by employers, such as employee retention and workplace fairness.

Few respondents feel prepared for menopause, with 65 per cent describe their experience as difficult and only eight per cent report feeling very prepared and informed for the overall experience of menopause.

Despite the lack of preparedness, women shared that they’ve experienced both physical and emotional symptoms during menopause, including hot flashes, fatigue, night sweats and weight gain.

Mood changes and anxiety were the most commonly reported emotional and mental health symptoms.

The findings of Carrot’s survey highlight the perception that discussing menopause at work is taboo, and the significant impact menopause has on respondents’ personal and professional relationships.

The majority of people surveyed shared that they feel uncomfortable discussing menopause at work, having to seek support from other sources instead.

“The dramatic hormonal changes stemming from menopause can result in symptoms that negatively impact people physically, mentally, and emotionally, in both their personal and professional lives, as confirmed by this survey,” said Dr Asima Ahmad, MD, MPH, co-founder and chief medical officer at Carrot Fertility.

“What’s also crystal clear from this survey is the diversity of support and benefits women in the workplace deem critical to their productivity, ranging from medical care to counselling and emotional support groups. We hope employers are taking note.”

Carrot aims to help employers and health plans provide equal access to fertility care regardless of age, race, income, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or location.

Earlier this year, the company developed a new line of clinically-validated, age-inclusive fertility benefits for employees going through every stage of menopause and low testosterone.

Customers have now the option to add support for menopause and low testosterone as part of their fertility benefits package, having access to providers through a specialised network, clinically supervised education and intimate group support.

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Firm secures US$1.9m grant to support women entrepreneurs in Africa

eha Impact Ventures aims to support women-owned small- and medium-sized enterprises

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Evelyn Castle, chief executive officer at eHA Impact Ventures / Source: evelyncastle.com

The impact investing enterprise eHA Impact Ventures (EIV) has been awarded a US$1.9m grant from the non-profit organisation eHealth Africa (eHA) to support women entrepreneurs in Africa.

eHA’s board of directors approved the donation as part of its effort to “strengthen” healthcare delivery systems and support vulnerable populations.

The grant, the organisation said, will be deployed to “upscale” women-funded companies to improve the health and wealth of African women, their families and their communities.

The donation is hoped to address the US$42bn funding gap for women entrepreneurs in Africa and help female founders have better access to funding opportunities.

In addition, the funds are expected to support health interventions like the pre-screening of cervical cancer and improve delivery of blood and blood products to healthcare facilities.

“The grant will be instrumental in boosting the economic capacity of women across Africa by supporting high-impact women-owned businesses,” said Evelyn Castle, chief executive officer at EIV, who founded the firm in 2021.

“Furthermore, it will [help us] upscale funding, mentorship and training programmes to help women create thriving businesses that drive economic growth in their communities.”

My Le, board executive at eHealth Africa, said: “These donations could not have come at a better time as  women continue to struggle to meet up with both health and economic demands. Thus we are optimistic that the funds will go a mile in bridging fiscal gaps for women and other vulnerable groups to lead healthier lives.

“Supporting women will go a long way in not just improving their societal impact but also contribute immensely to sustainable development especially in the African region.”

Recognising women’s “vital” role in building strong health systems, Atef Fawaz, CEO of eHealth Africa, added: “We acknowledge the profound impact women have in strengthening healthcare systems, aligning with our vision at eHealth Africa.”

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Menstrual product wins innovation award in Switzerland

Egal’s innovation consists of a roll of pads that operates in a similar fashion to a toilet paper roll and comes in its own dispenser

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Penelope Finnie, chief executive officer at Egal

Pads on a Roll, a menstrual product that can be dispensed in public stalls similar to a toilet paper roll, has won a prestigious award at the Women’s Health Innovation Summit Europe in Basel. 

Each year the Women’s Health Innovation Summit (WHIS) helps promising start-ups raise their brand awareness and pitch their solutions in front of investors and industry leaders.

Egal, the company behind Pads on a Roll, has been honoured with this year’s Women’s Health Innovation award after the WHIS selection committee recognised the start-up as an innovative company poised to disrupt the European women’s health landscape.

“Egal Pads is so honoured to have been chosen for the Women’s Health Innovation Award,” Penelope Finnie, Egal chief executive officer, told Femtech World.

“The other nine finalists were amazing companies run by wonderful people. The whole conference was a testament to the importance of the femtech movement.

“For us, it was particularly exciting as the EU is the next market we are focusing on. We hope that having period products available in stalls just like toilet paper is, will become the norm as it is necessary for equality.

“We also hope that by winning, it brings attention to this easily solved but long ignored issue,” Finnie added.

Egal’s innovation consists of a roll of pads that operates in a similar fashion to a toilet paper roll and comes in its own dispenser.

Egal aims to sell Pads on a Roll to universities and public schools

Each roll contains 40 pads and can be placed directly in stalls, unlike the typical tampon dispensers that often require money to access the products and are located outside the stall.

The pads are less expensive to maintain than products in vending machines because they are easier to refill, and require less space and packaging.

Research shows that 20 percent of girls in the US and UK have missed school due to lack of access to period products, with more than 90 per cent of menstruators having experienced jammed, broken or empty dispensers in public toilets.

Egal aims to solve this issue by selling Pads on a Roll to universities and public schools.

The Boston-based company has done pilots at various universities across the US and is hoping to develop a flushable version of the product in the future.

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‘It’s hard to stay healthy’- experts raise alarm over ‘pervasive’ economic challenges in US

A report highlighting women’s struggle with economic stress in the US has prompted experts to demand change

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Experts have raised concerns over the “pervasive” economic and health challenges women in the US are facing, after a damning report exposed significant financial stress.

national survey of women over 25 has found that American women face significant economic stress, with half of women reporting feeling “uncertain” or “worried” when thinking about how to pay for healthcare later in life and low-income and rural women reporting challenges to staying healthy today.

The report, which highlighted financial difficulties among women for the second year in a row, has prompted experts to speak out and demand change.

“The recent findings from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) underscore the pervasive economic and health challenges confronting American women, particularly those from low-income and rural communities,” Georgie Kovacs, women’s health expert and founder of Fempower Health, told Femtech World.

“Many women juggle caregiving responsibilities for their children while managing employment, often in environments that offer limited support.

“The scarcity of healthy food options in low-income areas, coupled with restricted access to essential healthcare services, exacerbates their daily struggles, impacting both their mental and physical health and that of their families.”

Underlining the “profound” impact of the menopause transition, Kovacs said women across the country are in desperate need of enhanced workplace policies and better access to specialised care.

“Our approach to addressing these challenges cannot be piecemeal – we require comprehensive systems that integrate childcare, health services, job security and mental health support, ensuring that no aspect of a woman’s health is overlooked,” she explained.

“It is imperative that we view the economic insecurities faced by women through a holistic lens, recognising the interconnectedness of health, employment and wellbeing.

“It’s time for all stakeholders, including government bodies and private sectors, to unite in crafting and implementing solutions that are as multifaceted as the lives of the women they aim to support.”

Katie Higgins, chief commercial officer at fertility benefits platform Progyny, called on employers to do more to support women, arguing that the pressure of financial uncertainty could “erode” self-esteem, strain relationships and compound parental stress.

“Balancing financial pressures with caregiving responsibilities can heighten feelings of guilt and inadequacy, impacting maternal mental health.

“Employers play a vital role in empowering women to prioritise their health without financial barriers through comprehensive benefits that include family building, fertility, maternal leave and menopause.”

Lois Quam, chief executive officer at sexual and reproductive health organisation Pathfinder International, noted that there is an important connection between health and income, meaning that women with the least financial resources often find themselves unable to access health services and modern innovations.

“From rural areas to the wealthiest cities in the world, women everywhere are being left behind. In the US and globally, they get paid and promoted less than men and leave the workforce at greater numbers to raise their children.

“Closing the gender pay gap could help keep women in the workforce, especially when childcare is so costly and inaccessible,” she told Femtech World.

Author and women’s health expert, Dr Mindy Pelz, encouraged women to “take control” of their health.

“It’s hard to stay healthy, even without the added pressure of economic stress,” she said.

“Many women just can’t rely on the American healthcare system to take care of them. That’s why I’m such an advocate for taking your health into your own hands.

“Simple lifestyle changes like intermittent fasting, meditation, cold exposure, walking 10,000 steps a day, avoiding electronics before bed might seem small on their own, but if you add them together and are consistent with them over time, they can make a huge difference.”

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