Does Menopause Make You Tired? Managing its Impact on Work

Does menopause make you tired

Menopause is an inclusive experience for cisgender women and some transgender men that marks a physiologic milestone when the reproductive period comes to a close. Almost 100 million women across North America have undergone menopause, with the mean age of onset being 52 years old. 

As sexual physiology changes, fluctuations in hormone levels follow closely behind and can result in significant impacts on physical and mental health. Historically, women have been left to manage them in relative silence, but there is increasing evidence that the effects of menopause extend well beyond a woman’s personal discomfort. 

Fortunately, menopause is becoming better understood every day, and as studies emerge, the professional and economic impacts it produces are shedding light on the silent suffering of women in the workplace. Not only does menopause make you tired—potentially exhausting you to the point of illness—but it can cause a wide range of mental and physical challenges that are finally starting to be taken seriously by employers around the country. 

How Does Menopause Affect Women?

Estrogen is a very influential hormone that impacts a woman’s reproductive health, the urinary and circulatory systems, bone density, skin, hair, pelvic musculature, and even the brain. 

During menopause, estrogen levels drop and ovulation ceases. This is a major shift that ripples throughout the body causing a variety of physical changes. On top of that, it also alters brain chemistry and hormone balances which may produce serious mental health effects. 

For some women, the symptoms can be treated with simple changes in their daily routine like avoiding caffeine or having something cool on standby in case of hot flashes. For others, it’s a major disruption that requires interdisciplinary professional support and care. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all list of expected signs and symptoms, and it’s impossible to anticipate how menopause will affect you. Regardless, the following symptoms are commonly experienced by the majority of women:

Changes to Menstruation

For people with a predictable cycle, menstrual changes may be the first obvious symptom of the onset of menopause. Periods may lose their regularity, become longer or shorter, and there may be changes in the amount of blood. While these are considered normal, patients experiencing the following should be seen by a medical provider:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Periods lasting more than a week
  • Periods resuming after no bleeding for more than a year

Menstrual changes that require healthcare checkups can result in lost work time, reduced productivity, and complications in home life. 

Hot Flashes

Vasomotor symptoms—also known as hot flashes or night sweats—are often the next most commonly reported symptom of menopause. These can last weeks, months, or years, and vary in frequency and intensity. They are often characterized by an experience of localized heat, and the face and neck may become flushed with red blotches appearing on the chest, back, and arms.

Hot flashes can be very mild or strong enough to wake a person up with night sweats. They may last between 30 seconds and 10 minutes and can happen anywhere from several times an hour to once or twice a week. Loss of sleep is already a major contributor to workplace difficulties, and the unpredictability of hot flashes can be a particular challenge. 

Mood Changes and Mental Health

During menopause, women may describe feeling moodier, irritable, or depressed for a variety of reasons. On top of hormonal changes and new brain chemistry, there are also a lot of personal, emotional, and spiritual challenges that accompany major life milestones. 

Being a woman has long since been viewed in parallel with fertility, and losing that part of their identity can be intensely complicated and emotionally traumatizing. Menopause and mental health sometimes fly under the radar amidst so many other symptoms, but it can actually be the most impactful aspect of the experience. Also, mental health issues are often much harder to treat and may require ongoing therapy and medication that can impact all aspects of a person’s life and work. 


Does menopause make you tired? Absolutely, and if everything else that accompanies menopause wasn’t enough, being exhausted can make every step along the way that much harder.

Running on empty can affect concentration in addition to a wide range of everyday tasks, and the collateral damage can quickly start showing up in the workplace. Being tired leads to poor decision making, and over time it can wear down your immune system and start piling up the sick days. 

The Impact of Menopause on Working Women

The Mayo Clinic recently published some astounding numbers indicating menopause causes approximately $1.8 billion in lost work time across North America, with an additional $26.6 billion in health expenses in the United States alone. It doesn’t take an expert to know that those numbers represent some serious challenges for employers and women in the workplace.

Among survey respondents, approximately 15% of women currently or previously undergoing menopause said they had either missed work or cut back on hours because of their symptoms. Women who experienced the worst symptoms were 16 times more likely to have trouble at work, and a little over 1% said that their symptoms had become so debilitating that they either quit their jobs or were laid off within six months of onset. 

Women of menopausal age presently account for just under 30% of the labor force in the U.S. and that number is only going to get bigger. Currently, only 4% of employers offer sick leave or additional support for people experiencing menopause, but fortunately, a few prominent companies are starting to shine some light on the subject. Microsoft, the NBA, and Abercrombie and Fitch are all working to better support their employees through menopause with increased benefits for treatments like hormone replacement therapy. 

Navigating the Workplace During Menopause

Does menopause make you tired, and is it causing you to miss work? You’re not alone. Menopause may be an unavoidable stage of life, but when women and their employers work together to create supportive work environments, it helps these valuable employees continue to contribute to the success of their work families as well as their loved ones at home. 

Premiere is committed to improving women’s health through high-quality, data-backed continuing education. Beyond Hot Flashes - Exploring the Complex Relationship Between Menopause and Mental Health by Premiere’s Kelly Walker  DNP, MA, BS, BA, FACNM and Jenna Lapointe LICSW offers a deeper dive into the menopause transition, and how employers and coworkers can best support their colleagues as they enter this new phase of life. 

All of Premiere’s content is created by leading industry experts and makes staying up-to-date and informed as easy as finding a screen. 

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