Most HR leaders have developed programs and support for pregnant employees, and many have considered their teams' fertility and family-forming needs, too. But less attention has been paid to the role hormones play later in life. Menopause and low testosterone (low T) can significantly impact productivity and general health — but are rarely discussed in the workplace. This stigma can lead to employees suffering in silence and, in some cases, ultimately leaving their roles.
Menopause symptoms can impact productivity and turnover
Creating a supportive environment starts with understanding how symptoms impact daily life. An estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide will have experienced menopause by 2025. The average age of menopause — when someone hasn’t had a menstrual cycle for 12 months — is 51, but symptoms can start up to a decade before. That means more employees than you might expect are managing not only well-known symptoms like hot flashes but sleep loss and mood-related symptoms, too.
These symptoms can be seriously disruptive: 54% of those going through or who went through menopause considered making a job-related change to better manage symptoms. One in three even considered one major job change, including retiring early, taking extended leave, or quitting altogether.
Part of the problem is that while menopause symptoms are common, receiving treatment is not. 32% of women say they’ve never discussed menopause with a healthcare provider. This is due in part to the fact that in the U.S. healthcare system, training around menopause is limited. Most medical schools don’t teach students about menopause. Just 20% of OB/GYN residency programs provide any kind of menopause training — and most are elective.
Menopause and low T are linked to other conditions
Unmanaged menopause symptoms impact more than just work performance. Though a natural part of aging, menopause also signals a time when people are at a higher risk for hypertension, cholesterol disorders, osteoporosis, and diabetes.
And while less discussed, low T in males can also involve disruptive symptoms. Testosterone deficiency is seen in around 30% of males over 40. More than 30 conditions and other factors besides aging lead to low T, complicating diagnosis and treatment. Studies show that males with low T have higher rates of other comorbidities such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Ensuring employees have access to providers knowledgeable in hormonal aging can help them manage symptoms and address or prevent other associated conditions.
Supportive resources for menopause and low T in the workplace can help
Many of the same types of resources that support employees going through other hormonal health journeys are also valuable for managing menopause and low T symptoms. These include:
- Flexible time off for symptom management and doctor’s appointments. Creating an environment in which employees feel comfortable taking time off is valuable for supporting all fertility health journeys.
- Access to a vetted network of providers. Specific training in menopause is limited in the medical community. Through a resource like Carrot, employees have access to a vetted network of providers with experience managing menopause and low T symptoms as well as telehealth support.
- Community support. The stigma associated with menopause can make symptoms harder to deal with. Employee resource groups or access to group support, such as through Carrot, can help people experiencing menopause symptoms connect with others going through the same experience.
Hormonal aging doesn’t have to define this life stage. In fact, surveys of women in their 40s and 50s report feeling more confident and in control of their careers during this time than a decade before. Employers have the opportunity to provide resources that help ease some of the challenges associated with hormonal aging and empower employees to continue enjoying their careers.