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Early Menopause Can Mean Earlier Retirements for Women
  • Posted March 12, 2024

Early Menopause Can Mean Earlier Retirements for Women

Early menopause influences how working women feel about their ability to do a good job. 

That's the key takeaway from a study of more than 2,600 Finnish women recently published online in the journal Menopause, a publication of the Menopause Society.

Researchers wanted to know if entering menopause before age 45 affected women, when they still have 20-odd years of working life ahead of them.

About 8 in 10 women going through the change have hot flashes and night sweats, which can affect their quality of life. The new study found that these changes limit many women's working lives.

The Finnish women whose periods had stopped by age 46 were 1.5 times more likely to perceive their job skills poorly than other women, making them more likely to retire early on a disability pension, researchers found.

This was the first study to find a connection between early menopause and workforce participation.

"This study showed that entering the menopause transition early is linked with poorer work ability and impaired long-term working life participation," said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, medical director for the Menopause Society. "These findings reinforce the importance of addressing bothersome menopause symptoms to optimize a woman's quality of life, both personally and professionally." 

Previous research from the U.K. linked menopause before age 45 to a 9 percentage point drop in workforce participation once women entered their 50s.

Led by Tiia Saarinen of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Oulu University Hospital, the Finnish researchers urged employers to give their middle-aged female employees breaks.

"In working life, employers should consider making working conditions more flexible for women undergoing the menopausal transition to help them manage their symptoms," they wrote in a journal news release. "In addition, employers should provide these women with increased support; doing so could help minimize their risk of prematurely ending their work careers."

More information

The National Institute on Aging has more about menopause.

SOURCE: The Menopause Society, news release, March 13, 2024

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