A survey shows more than half of women in Ireland fear their long-term relationships are suffering as a result of menopausal symptoms
Despite being increasingly discussed on a public platform, the menopause still seems to be often misunderstood, or even ignored, in several key areas of women’s lives.
More than 2,800 women, aged between 35 and 64, responded to the online survey by The Menopause Hub, Ireland’s first-ever clinic solely devoted to treating menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms.
Founder and CEO of The Menopause Hub, Loretta Dignam, said the research highlights the ‘devastating impact’ this time of life is having on couples and intimate relationships.
Menopause at home
She explained: “When assessing anyone for treatment, our staff ask how women feel about their relationships, and there’s no doubt many are worried about the effect menopause is having on them and their sex lives.”
Menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms include fatigue, lack of sleep, depression, brain fog and severe anxiety, among others.
The Menopause in the Workplace survey, released ahead of World Menopause Day on 18 October, found the majority of women (68.4%) felt they were not adequately prepared for the impact of menopause and perimenopause, while almost all (96.7%) said they were experiencing symptoms.
When dealing with night sweats, sleeplessness, headaches, mood swings or loss of libido, it’s not surprising that the menopause can take a toll on long-term partnerships or intimate relationships. If left to fester, these symptoms can give rise to increased irritability, frequent arguments, a lack of understanding, a loss of physical intimacy and the gradual growing apart of the couple.
Ms Dignam said the findings highlight the need for greater awareness on the effects that the ‘change of life’ has on families and relationships.
Menopause in the workplace
In an employment context, the survey revealed that the vast majority (93.9%) do not believe the Government is doing enough to help menopausal women remain at work when symptoms arise. A massive 85.9% of respondents would like to have access to specialist menopause consultations at work and 80% want their employers to introduce a menopause-in-the-workplace policy. Even small changes could make a significant difference.
“Employers can make simple adjustments, such as a relaxation of uniform policies and increased comfort breaks, to help menopausal employees progress in their careers,” said Ms Dignam.
Over 70% said greater menopause awareness training for staff at their organisation is needed, with almost over 60% claiming there is a stigma associated with the topic at their place of employment. Of the supports that are available, the three most popular identified by women are free health checks for over 40s, free hormone replacement therapy and more menopause training for GPs.
Where to get help
The Menopause Hub has three clinics – in Mount Merrion, South Dublin, Santry, North Dublin and Ballincollig, Co Cork, and has treated more than 7,500 women since opening in 2019.