"There are powerful commercial incentives to “catastrophise” menopause in the
minds of Australian women to drive them to purchase products to treat it, a
major study into its symptoms has found.
Published on Thursday, the report draws on data from 3,570 women aged 18 and
over who took part in the 2023 National Women’s Health Survey who said they had
Co-authored by the Australasian Menopause Society, the Women’s Health Research
Program at Monash University and Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, it marks the
first time a large, nationally representative survey of Australian women has
been conducted to ask about menopause experiences.
The report found that while the severity of symptoms that women attribute to
menopause are similar to those published in the medical literature, the
proportion of Australian women missing days of work, or taking leave or an
extended break from work, is lower than some estimates being used to model and
address the impact.
The report noted that while “a substantial minority of women need therapeutic
interventions to alleviate menopausal symptoms,” menopause coverage in the
media and public discussion was often not based on strong evidence and
overemphasised the severity and frequency of symptoms, and the impact.
One example cited by the report was widespread coverage of a study that found
“nearly one million” women had quit their jobs in the UK due to lack of
employer support for menopause symptoms.
However, the study was later found to be flawed, the report said, based on data
from a non-representative sample of women that was then extrapolated and
applied to the whole UK population. The study also combined other reasons for
leaving the workforce, such as pregnancy and fertility issues, with menopause
The Jean Hailes report said: “We caution all parties to avoid ‘catastrophising’
menopause in the framing of public discussions, and particularly in the
advertising of goods and services, as it could have the unintended consequences
of eroding women’s resilience and stigmatising women as they approach
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics