One in 10 women who have worked during the menopause have left a job due to their symptoms, a survey has found.
The survey of more than 4,000 UK women aged 45-55, who are currently or have previously experienced the perimenopause or the menopause, also found that 14% of women had reduced their hours at work, 14% had gone part-time, and 8% had not applied for promotion.
The research was supported by the Fawcett Society, which has produced a report called Menopause And The Workplace.
It follows reports the government is pledging to tackle shortages of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medicine – used to combat menopausal symptoms – which are leaving some women feeling suicidal.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced in April he will be appointing an HRT tsar to help improve supply in both the short and long term.
Recent figures suggest the number of HRT prescriptions in the UK has doubled in the last five years but stocks are running low.
Women are now reportedly sharing their prescriptions, with some said to be made suicidal by the debilitating menopause symptoms they suffer without the medication.
Meanwhile, the report found that 45% of women surveyed said they had not talked to someone at their GP practice about menopause, and even among women with five or more severe symptoms, 29% had not spoken to their GP or a nurse.
Some 31% of women surveyed agreed that it took many appointments for their GP to realise they were experiencing the menopause or perimenopause, rising to 45% among women from ethnically diverse backgrounds and 42% among women with five or more severe symptoms.
Just 39% of women who spoke to a GP or nurse said they had been offered HRT once they were diagnosed with menopause.
Fawcett Society chief executive Jemima Olchawski said: “Menopausal women are experiencing unnecessary misery and it’s a national scandal.
“From waiting too long for the right care, to uniforms that cause unnecessary discomfort – women are being badly let down.
“Too often menopause symptoms have been dismissed as a joke and HRT has been labelled a lifestyle drug. But with 44% of women facing three or more severe symptoms, our research helps to dispel that nonsense.
“Faced with that misinformation, is it a wonder that only half of women are even seeking help from their GP?”
She added: “The government needs to make urgent changes, from requiring employers to have menopause action plans, to creating a route into menopause healthcare, to ensuring that GPs are adequately trained to spot menopause symptoms.
“For too long, menopause has been shrouded in stigma, we need to break the culture of silence and ensure menopausal women are treated with the dignity and support they deserve instead of being expected to just get on with it.”
The findings of the survey will feature in a Channel 4 documentary called Davina McCall: Sex, Mind And The Menopause at 9pm on Monday.