Hot flushes are associated with stress and anxiety and can result in social embarrassment and discomfort, lowered confidence and feeling out of control. Hot flushes can be visible and further increases anxiety which triggers further hot flushes. Night sweats causes disturbed sleep with knock on effect of tiredness, increased anxiety and worry of poor performance the next day, lowering self esteem. The anxiety/worry about having another disturbed night can itself trigger more vasomotor symptoms.
For many women who have not experienced psychological symptoms before, they can find mood changes, anxiety and fatigue distressing, out of character and unexpected. This can impact on their personal, social, home and work life. There are also other psychosocial life changes: pressures from work, aging parents (ill health or bereavement), children / young adults leaving (or not leaving) home, loss of partner through death or separation, financial worries, negative attitudes to aging and the menopause, poor health, tiredness and sleep problems can all make the individual feel less able to cope.
In the workplace, 75% of symptomatic menopausal women report serious problems in dealing with the physical and mental demands of their work (low work ability). Hot flushes are reported as a source of distress and embarrassment for some, leaving them feeling at odds with their desired professional image.
The symptoms of menopause which are felt to cause the most difficulties at work are poor concentration, poor memory, lowered confidence, feeling low / depressed and fatigue.
Workplace environment such as stressful or high visibility work environment, hot or poorly ventilated areas can exacerbate menopausal symptoms.
Reluctance to disclose menopausal symptoms at work may be due to fear that their symptoms will not be taken seriously or fear of stigmatisation. Some feel that their menopausal status opens them up to being stereotyped and prefer not to reveal age or gender-related matters at work. When women take sickness absence because of menopausal symptoms, they do not always reveal the real reason to their manager. This is especially the case where their manager is male, is younger than them, is unsympathetic (E.g. line manager did not experience a negative impact of menopause themselves) or have cultural differences.