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Published: 4 week

Why is menopause taboo in the workplace?

Menopause, also known as menopause, is a natural stage of life that involves significant physical and psychological changes. While it is increasingly discussed in social discourse, it often remains a taboo subject in the workplace. This is particularly problematic because menopause takes place in women during their active working years. Mária Koch is a menopause researcher and founder of a corporate programme series on HR Portal.

Koch Mária menopauza-kutató-

Climacterium is still a highly stigmatised issue in society and this also affects the workplace. As long as menopause is associated with ageing, depreciation and reduced work capacity, it can only lead to negative perceptions. The majority of women quite rightly fear that if they are found to be in a difficult stage of life because of menopausal symptoms, they will be treated as weaker, less productive or unreliable.

In addition, the negative comments or discrimination they have already suffered at work may add to their fears. Women are afraid that if they share what they are going through, their openness may have further negative consequences.

The problem that shouldn't be

Many workplaces lack adequate knowledge and education about menopause, so the cause of misconceptions can be traced back to a lack of awareness. Managers do not really understand the impact of menopause on workers and how to support them. The topic is neglected mainly due to a lack of information.

For me, it is also a big realisation that in this country, interest is still mostly triggered when HR managers or some of the senior managers are going through menopause. It is mainly at this time that they come to me for joint reflection and to ask for concrete help, and it is less often that interest in the topic is triggered as part of the corporate culture, either with a wellbeing or ESG focus. Yet climate is a complex issue with a health, and therefore a human resources, focus that affects all levels of the company.

Most women feel shame and anxiety in the workplace when they menopause

The time spent in menopause is often very prolonged, up to 8-12 years. This is far too long for a symptomatic worker to be able to perform at a consistently high level without having to hide her symptoms.

In most cases, however, this is what happens when the subject causes shame and anxiety in the person concerned.

Competitiveness and youthful dynamism are important values in the workplace, but menopausal women may feel that they cannot live up to these expectations.

In our 2023 survey, we asked 120 middle-management women how much their symptoms interfere with their day-to-day work. It is clear that the problem is dominant and determines the way women relate to themselves and their environment. The question is who dares to be transparent about their own experiences or which workplace environment starts to proactively unravel the problem. Or is it easier to run away on sick leave if no solution emerges?

Or is it easier to run away on sick leave if no solution emerges?

Are you ready to take the initiative when the workplace is more proactive?


helloklimax® programme survey of 120 women middle managers between 02-05 2023

Climax is a complex problem with many spill-over effects and needs to be addressed in the workplace
The treatment of menopause as a taboo subject in the workplace is due to complex social, cultural and psychological factors. More open communication, information, education and support are needed for change to occur.

Managers and decision makers need to be acutely aware of the importance of climate change because women's retention and satisfaction in the workplace directly affects company performance. A lack of adequate support can not only have a negative impact on employee health and performance, but can also increase turnover, reduce productivity and worsen morale.

What's in a company's best interest when it comes to climate change?

There are significant benefits to managing climate change from a corporate perspective. Companies that proactively address the challenges of menopause can improve the health of their employees, increase their satisfaction and loyalty. This is an investment that pays off in the short term through reduced staff turnover, increased productivity and improved corporate culture. We now know that a supportive work environment increases engagement with the company, reduces stress and leads to health gains in the longer term.

Managing climate change in the workplace is important not only for women's wellbeing, but also for corporate success and sustainability. HR leaders and decision makers need to recognise the importance of climate and develop appropriate strategies to ensure a supportive workplace environment for all employees.

Maria Koch

employer branding consultant

menopause researcher

founder of the helloklimax® programme and the corporate programme and award "Goodbye, hello!"

The author

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