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Women’s health in the workplace – Fertility & Menopause

Webinar summary

Sep 07 2023 5 min read

Women’s Health In The Workplace – Fertility & Menopause

In a recent webinar on women's health in the workplace, experts shed light on the challenges faced by women dealing with fertility issues and navigating the transition of perimenopause and menopause. 


Infertility affects a diverse range of demographics, extending beyond women's health concerns. Anya Sizer, Fertility Network rep, presented key fertility statistics, revealing that approximately one in six heterosexual couples, totaling around 3.5 million people, may experience fertility struggles. Surprisingly, known fertility issues affect approximately 30% of males and 30% of females, while the rest fall into the unexplained category, posing unique challenges for individuals dealing with infertility.

Key fertility statistics:

  1. Emotional Impact: During the process of trying to conceive (TTC), 91% of individuals experience anxiety, 89% face stress, and 88% suffer from depression. These emotional burdens can directly impact job satisfaction and engagement.
  2. Workplace Engagement: Among those TTC, 56% reported decreased job satisfaction, 63% experienced decreased engagement, and 36% had to take increased sick leave. These factors negatively affect workplace productivity and employee retention.
  3. Financial Concerns: Fertility treatments often come with significant financial burdens, with approximately 48% of individuals undergoing treatment reporting financial worries. The average cost of an IVF cycle ranges between £5000-£8000.
  4. Communication Challenges: While 80% of individuals inform their employer about undergoing fertility treatment, only 40% are fully honest about the time taken off for appointments or fertility-related illness. Moreover, 38% of individuals considered leaving their jobs or actually quit due to the challenges they faced.

Recommendations For Employers

  1. Promote Workplace Discussion: Encourage open conversations about fertility challenges, highlighting that it affects both men and women.
  2. Reasonable Adjustments: Provide designated spaces for hormone injections and private phone calls related to treatment.
  3. Support and Flexibility: Support and job flexibility have the most significant impact on employee retention. On average, women undergoing IVF cycles would benefit from 8-10 flexible working days, including two full days off for medical procedures.
  4. Written Fertility Policies: Develop comprehensive fertility policies that outline the organisation's commitment to supporting employees dealing with fertility challenges.

Navigating Perimenopause and Menopause

Dr. Eleanor Barnard, NHS GP, shed light on the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause and their impact on workplace performance. Dr. Barnard emphasises the importance of correct terminology when it comes to women's health. There is common confusion between ‘menopause’ and ‘perimenopause’.

Perimenopause is the phase between premenopause (the time of peak fertility) and menopause (when fertility stops, usually around age 51, but it can vary). During perimenopause, fertility starts to decline, and it's the period when women experience the most intense symptoms due to hormonal changes.

Key perimenopause facts:

  1. Symptoms of Perimenopause: Common symptoms include anxiety, mood swings, hot flushes, night sweats, disrupted sleep, fatigue, depression, irritability, joint pain, bloating, dizziness, headaches, memory lapses, osteoporosis, difficulty concentrating, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
  2. Impact on Workplace Performance: These symptoms can significantly affect day-to-day functioning and confidence in the workplace, leading to reduced effectiveness and mental health problems.

Recommendations for Employers

  1. Foster Open Conversation: Create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing menopause and seeking support.
  2. Environmental Considerations: Provide fresh air, access to fans, and consider adjusting air conditioning to alleviate symptoms such as hot flashes.
  3. Promote a Healthy Workplace: Encourage healthy habits, outdoor breaks, physical movement, and a balanced diet to help alleviate symptoms and improve overall well-being and productivity.
  4. Menopause Mentors: Appoint menopause mentors within the organisation to provide guidance and support, reducing potential discomfort or embarrassment when seeking assistance.

Creating a Caring and Inclusive Workplace

Supporting employees through fertility issues and menopause is crucial for creating a caring and inclusive workplace. By fostering open discussions, making reasonable workplace adjustments, and implementing comprehensive policies, employers can demonstrate their commitment to supporting employees' wellbeing and ultimately improve overall productivity, retention and employee satisfaction.

More information on Qured's testing plans, including menopause and fertility, is available here.

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