By Cara McGoogan
Nearly half of women (48 per cent) say the menopause has a negative impact on their mental health and mood, according to new research.
The poll commissioned by Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and BBC Radio Sheffield found the menopause makes 25 per cent of women want to stay at home, with a further 23 per cent reporting that it reduced their enjoyment in life.
It also revealed that women have a limited understanding of their biological clock, even as they approach the average age for the menopause (51 in the UK). Over 70 per cent said they didn’t have a strong understanding of the menopause, which led to some being unaware of the effects it would have on their physical and mental health.
“Our findings suggest that women don’t have enough information about the menopause,” said Karen Dalziel, editor of Woman’s Hour. “Whilst some of the physical symptoms are well known, we’ve discovered how the menopause is affecting women’s mental health.
“We also now know that women seem reluctant to talk about it – either with doctors or with their employers, and so could be missing out on sources of support.”
Of the women who reported a change in their mental health, just over a third said they consulted their GP about the problem. And only 70 per cent of women who were working when they experienced the menopause told their employer about the change in their mood.
There are around 3.5 million working women over the age of 50 in the UK. Previous research shows that around 50 per cent of women find employment difficult when undergoing the menopause, and 10 per cent have given up work because of the symptoms.
Physical and mental side effects associated with the menopause include low self-esteem, anxiety, memory loss and verbal slips.
“The impact clearly goes beyond the more commonly reported physical symptoms, often affecting people’s relationships, their jobs and clearly impacting mental health and well-being,” said Katrina Bunker, editor of BBC Radio Sheffield. “The results of our poll show there is much to be discussed about the menopause and many stories to be heard.”
The survey, which ComRes conducted on behalf of the BBC, involved 1,009 women between the ages of 50 and 60.