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A Westminster Hall debate on the ‘Support for people experiencing menopausal symptoms’ has been scheduled for Wednesday 9 June 2021 from 4:50-5:50pm. The debate has been initiated by Carolyn Harris MP.


The menopause is a natural stage in life when a woman’s periods stop, and she is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.

It happens when there is a change in the sex hormones as a woman gets older. The ovaries stop producing the hormone oestrogen and no longer produce an egg each month.

The menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45-55; the average age for women in the UK to reach menopause is 51. The process is usually gradual and occurs over several years. Menopause can also be triggered by some treatments for cancer, and in some exceptional cases, younger women may become menopausal (known as premature menopause).

Most women will experience menopausal symptoms that are caused by the change in the balance of hormones. These symptoms can have a significant impact on daily life and well-being and experiences vary widely between women. Common menopausal symptoms include:

  • hot flushes
  • night sweats
  • vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
  • difficulty sleeping
  • low mood or anxiety
  • reduced sex drive (libido)
  • problems with memory and concentration.

The fall in hormone levels that accompanies the menopause can increase the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.

In November 2015 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published its first national guideline on menopause (NG23, Menopause: diagnosis and management), and this was last updated in December 2019. NICE recommends that help and information is available for women with menopause, and the guideline outlines a range of treatment options including Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).

In December 2019, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists published Better for Women which calls for a life course approach to women’s health. This report included a section on general health during and after the menopause, and support for women with menopausal symptoms in the workplace.

In 2017, the Government Equalities Office published a study reviewing the literature on menopause and the workplace. In May 2021, the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) published a guide to managing menopause at work which sets out some best practice in this area.

The Government is seeking views to help inform the development of a Women’s Health Strategy. The consultation period runs for 14 weeks and closes at 11:45pm on 13 June 2021 (DHSC, Women’s Health Strategy: Call for Evidence, 1 May 2021).

The following sources provide more information on the support available to women experiencing menopausal symptoms:


The menopause usuallyoccurs between the ages of 45 and 55 and current estimates suggest that the average age for a woman to reach the menopause in the UK is 51 years (Source: NHS: Menopause information). With around 5.1 million women in the UK aged between 45 and 55 years, a large range of women are potentially menopausal (Source: ONS population estimates for mid-2019).  NICE note that an estimated 1.5 million women – around 80% of those going through menopause – experience common symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats (Source: NICE, Menopause: diagnosis and management).

The Government’s 2017 review of Menopause transition effects on women’s economic participation noted that increased rates of employment among women aged 50 and above mean that up to 47% of the UK workforce will experience menopause transition during their working lives. Their review of available evidence suggested that estimates of the proportion of women negatively affected by menopausal symptoms at work range from 10% to 53%.

In some cases, menopausal conditions are severe enough to result in hospital admission. Around 16,000 women were admitted to hospital in England in 2019/20 with conditions associated with the menopause. (Source: NHS Digital admitted patient care)

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