Billions Spent on Easing Menopause Symptoms, Study Finds
Menopause symptoms are costly business, with billions spent on treating hot flashes, night sweats and lost sleep, a new study finds.
The research, published Wednesday in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that women living with these symptoms needed to see their doctor more often and missed more work.
“A full 13% of the women we surveyed experienced an adverse work outcome related to menopause symptoms, and about 11% were missing days of work because of these symptoms,” lead study author Dr. Stephanie Faubion, director of Mayo Clinic Women's Health in Rochester, Minn., said in a Mayo Clinic news release.
Menopause happens when a woman's ovaries no longer produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Women typically experience this between the ages of 45 and 55, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Study participants were 5,000 women who were primary care patients at the Mayo Clinic who answered a survey in 2021. About 4,440 of the women ages 45 to 60 were employed at the time.
Researchers used the Menopause Rating Scale (MRS), finding a mean total score of 12.1 for “moderate menopause symptom burden.”
A total of 597 women (13.4%) reported at least one bad work outcome due to menopause symptoms, and 485 women reported missing one or more days of work in the preceding year due to menopause symptoms.
"Adding to the complexity of women's experience of menopause is that the topic has been taboo, particularly in the workplace, which potentially adds to the psychological burden of symptoms," senior study author Ekta Kapoor, assistant director of Mayo Clinic Women's Health, said in the Mayo news release. "Women often fear bias, discrimination and stigmatization, and therefore may be reluctant to disclose their menopause symptoms to their workplace managers and others. Recognizing these concerns and creating a safe workplace environment for women to discuss their health care needs may help address this."
The researchers estimated what financial losses would look like nationwide, using 2020 census data. The annual cost of lost days of work is an estimated $1.8 billion, the study authors said. Another $25 billion in medical costs are related to menopause.
“This estimate does not include the costs related to reduced hours of work or to the loss of employment, early retirement or changing jobs,” the study added.
The National Institute on Aging has more on menopause.
SOURCE: Mayo Clinic Proceedings, online, April 26, 2023; Mayo Clinic, news release, April 26, 2023