Activity 1. Learn the facts

Menopause is defined as the final menstrual period. It occurs when there has been a change in a woman's reproductive hormones and her ovaries no longer release any eggs. Once a woman reaches menopause, she can no longer become pregnant.

In the classroom - teacher

Most women reach menopause between 45-55 years of age. The average age for women in Australia to reach menopause is 51-52 years.

Some women will have a later menopause – at up to 60 years of age, especially if there is a family history of late menopause – while some women will have an earlier than expected menopause, as a result of cancer treatment, surgery or unknown causes.

During the lead-up to menopause, and the menopause transition, symptoms such as menstrual irregularities, hot flushes and anxiety are common. 

The lead-up to menopause is called perimenopause. Perimenopause typically starts in a woman’s 40s, but can occur during a woman's 30s. Symptoms can come in waves, increasing and decreasing for months at a time. Though 4-6 years is the average length for most women’s perimenopause, it can be as short as a year, or last more than 10 years.

For every woman, the experience of perimenopause and menopause is different. About 20% of women will have no menopausal symptoms, 20% will have severe symptoms and the remainder will have mild to moderate symptoms.

A life event largely ignored

Research from Monash University found that although large numbers of women go through menopause while in paid employment, employers often largely ignore this important staff issue.

The end result? Some women feel they have to hide menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, sleep issues, fatigue or anxiety, even though these symptoms may create difficulties for them at work.  

Just as managers recognise that employees may need special considerations during other major life events, such as pregnancy, cancer treatment or bereavement, so too should menopause be recognised as a period of profound transition, during which some female work colleagues may need sensitive support, work adjustments or greater flexibility to manage the associated changes and potential health issues.

Providing the right support

A team of researchers spent six years working towards a solution that focused on what workplace support menopausal women needed, and how managers and workplaces could best provide it.

The result is the Menopause Information Pack for Organizations (MIPO), a recently released suite of free resources for workplaces to help support women through this life stage.

For a newly-released Jean Hailes Magazine article, we interviewed one of the lead researchers of MIPO about why menopause is a workplace issue and how workplaces can become menopause-friendly.

Activity 2. Poster

Keep your cool in the workplace by downloading this poster of tips for managing menopause. Pop it on display, or hand out copies to staff members and create a positive environment to help menopausal women thrive.

More helpful resources about menopause

Supporting women through menopause

This fact sheet explains what menopause is and the types of symptoms women may experience. It also covers how women can be supported through menopause.

Get informed

Menopause Information Pack for Organisations (MIPO)

Informed by internationally recognised research, MIPO is a free suite of resources to help workplaces in supporting women and the menopausal transition.

Free resources

Watch a video as a group

What happens in menopause and what are the best ways to manage symptoms? Jean Hailes endocrinologist (hormone specialist) Dr Sonia Davison explains in this 25-minute video.

Start watching