How to navigate the financial impact of the menopause

BY Lauren Chiren

17th Feb 2024 Menopause

5 min read

How to navigate the financial impact of the menopause
Menopause comes with a whole lot of symptoms, including hot flushes and brain fog. But what about the financial cost? Menopause coach Lauren Chiren explores the "menopause tax"
Menopause brings about big changes in a woman's life, and new challenges to navigate. The usual focus is on health issues, however, what about the hidden costs of menopause. These are rarely addressed, but can cause long term implications, additional stress and further disruption to life during and after menopause.

Lost wages and career disruptions

The journey through menopause often comes with a hidden cost, commonly referred to as the "menopause tax". This term encapsulates the financial challenges that many women face during this natural phase of life. One of the most significant impacts is on a woman's career.
Menopause symptoms like hot flushes, insomnia, and brain fog can lead to decreased productivity at work. This isn't just about the occasional day feeling under the weather; it's about a substantial phase in a woman's life where her work performance might consistently suffer.
"The reality is that with the right help and support, you can absolutely thrive through menopause"
The implications can be far-reaching when her employer is not actively menopause savvy and supportive. Women may find themselves overlooked for promotions or significant projects due to perceived unreliability or inconsistency in performance. The situation is exacerbated in workplaces lacking menopause awareness or supportive policies. This lack of understanding can lead to increased absenteeism, as women may feel the need to take time off due to unmanageable symptoms or for medical appointments related to menopause.
The reality is that with the right help and support, you can absolutely thrive through menopause. A lack of knowledge is at the core of these issues—something that, thankfully, we can remediate with positive engagement from employers.

Elevated personal care expenses

Menopause marks a significant change in a woman's life, and with it comes the potential need to adapt personal care routines. The hormonal shifts can affect skin, hair, and nails, often leading women to believe that they require specialised products to manage these changes.
For instance, the skin may become drier and less elastic, making ads for more intensive moisturisers and anti-aging products to become more attractive. These skincare items, especially if they are of high quality or from specialised brands, can be and typically are quite expensive. The same goes for hair care, or changes in nail health. 
Woman doing skincare
Beyond topical treatments, many women seek to manage menopausal symptoms through lifestyle changes, which is an approach available to everyone and does not have to come with a hefty price tag.
The issue is, with the positioning of these "top tips" and celebrity endorsements, fitness regimes and apps and diets, a balanced diet, often recommended to help with symptoms like weight gain and hot flushes, might be positioned to mean purchasing more expensive food items, such as organic produce or specialised dietary supplements, and even hiring personal trainers and nutritionists. The cumulative effect of these increased personal care and lifestyle expenses can be substantial.
However, there are more cost effective ways to do this. We all have to eat, move and breathe, but we don’t have to make any expensive purchases! It is by making small incremental changes that is the magic to successfully navigating menopause. 
"We all have to eat, move and breathe, but we don’t have to make any expensive purchases!"
That’s why I love running my Free Menopause The Basics course—to share what women can do to manage their menopause successfully, for free. The only investment required is 30 minutes a day for 3 days. 
Complementary and alternative therapies like oils or yoga can help manage symptoms. Again, you can choose whether you book private appointments, or follow a free online guide, podcast or book.
It's important for women to understand what menopause really is and how it might impact them before embarking on buying lotions and potions that may have very little efficacy or scientific research behind them.
The reality is that 86 per cent of women neither know what menopause truly is, nor how it may impact them, and want any horrible symptoms to disappear as quickly as they came—so buying into the latest ad, hiring a professional, or taking a friend's recommendation can be very appealing

Mental health

The menopause transition is not just a physical process; it profoundly impacts mental health as well. Many women experience a range of emotional and psychological effects during this time, including heightened anxiety, episodes of depression, and sleep disturbances. The cost of managing these mental health challenges can be substantial. 
Therapy and counselling, often crucial for navigating the emotional upheavals of menopause, can be expense, especially for those without comprehensive health insurance, or who are unable to access support on the NHS. In reality most employers have an Employee Assistance Programme and other access to wellbeing support, but many women are worried about seeking help and support openly for fear of being seen as weak or vulnerable.
Medications, whether HRT or other prescriptions, can add an additional financial burden. For many women, these costs are an out-of-pocket expense, although there is no charge in Scotland and Wales and in England you can apply for an annual prepayment certificate to limit the costs.
The societal stigma around menopause can exacerbate these challenges, as women may feel reluctant to seek help or discuss their experiences openly.
The emotional toll of menopause is often compounded by societal pressures and a lack of adequate support from colleagues, family and friends. It's crucial for society to recognise and address these challenges, providing empathetic and comprehensive support for women during this natural stage of life.
Seeking professional help for mental health issues related to menopause is not just a matter of personal health; it's an investment in a woman's overall quality of life
"Women may feel reluctant to seek help or discuss their experiences openly"
However, the financial implications of this care need to be considered and addressed. Employers, healthcare providers, and policymakers must work together to create supportive environments and policies that acknowledge and mitigate the financial impact of menopause.
Additionally, menopause can impact a woman's decision-making abilities, particularly in financial matters. Fluctuating hormone levels can affect cognitive functions, leading to challenges in managing personal finances effectively. This can have long-term implications, especially when it comes to retirement planning and investments. 
Menopause for many is a natural life stage, and managing its symptoms shouldn't be a financial burden. For others, menopause will be induced through medical or surgical interventions, often at an earlier stage of life than a natural menopause. Greater awareness and support can help women navigate this phase more comfortably and affordably.
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