Menopause in the workplace: What is brain fog and why you need to know about it

Menopause Mental Health, Menopause symptoms, Read, Watch/Listen


There are many symptoms caused by perimenopause and menopause.

Many of them can impact your colleague in ways you may not expect, realise or understand why or how.

One of the symptoms is brain fog.

In this blog, I share what it is, why it happens, what impact it can have on your colleague and how your workplace can support those going through perimenopause and menopause.


What is brain fog?

For your colleauges that are menopausal, it may display itself as:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory loss issues
  • A struggle to focus

And it’s been described as feeling like:

  • Your head is stuck in the clouds
  • Your brain is in a world of its own
  • Your brain has turned into a Giant marshmallow
  • The world appears to be foggy and misty


How many of those with peri-menopausal and menopausal symptoms can it affect?

Research shows that 34.6% of those with menopausal symptoms in the workplace suffer with brain fog. That’s a large chunk of the work force.


Why does it happen?

No-one really and truly knows why.

It is known that the hormone oestrogen fluctuates and this may affect the oestrogen receptors in the brain.

Stress, worry and anxiety can also make menopause symptoms worse so if your colleague is worrying about brain fog, it’s likely they’re aggravating their symptoms.


How can it impact your colleague in the workplace?

It can be mild for some and debilitating for others, but some of the ways it may show up in the workplace are:

  • Focus and concentration dips
  • Missing meetings and deadlines
  • Forgetfulness
  • Walk in to an office and can’t remember why
  • Struggle to complete tasks


Will everyone who is perimenopausal or menopausal suffer with brain fog?

Symptoms are unique to each person going through it.

How mild and sever the symptoms are will vary person to person.


How else will perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms affect your colleague?

Perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms can create a vicious cycle of symptoms for your colleague. This is best explained in this diagram by Clare Shepherd from Your New Life Plan.

It shows how one symptom can create other symptoms and how they then become connected to create the vicious cycle.

How can the workplace help?

  • Learn about menopause and its symptoms and how they can impact your colleagues.
  • Talk about menopause as an organisation.
  • Talk to your colleagues about it.
  • Introduce menopause hubs or meeting places or meeting times.
  • Put in place support and help


Before you dive in to starting your conversation about menopause


Do not make assumptions about someone’s health condition, or ask them a direct question as to whether they have peri-menopause or menopause symptoms.

If you have concerns about someone’s well-being or performance, ask open questions.

Examples are:

  • ‘How are you doing at the moment?’
  • ‘I’ve noticed you’ve been arriving late recently, and I wondered if you’re okay?’

It’s up to the individual to disclose any particular symptoms or health issues with you.

Approach conversations with empathy, and try not to be embarrassed

And, if you do have concerns

Encourage them to speak with your Occupational Health or their Doctor.


Making Changes In The Workplace

If you want to know what simple and affordable changes that can be made, check out my Blog How to create a workplace culture that supports those going through the menopause

Check out my video How to introduce changes in the workplace to support those going through menopause.

Want to know more about menopause awareness for your workplace? 

Here’s some additional resources.  


Free Menopause policy checklist

IMPORTANTThe Menopause Training Company content is for guidance only and should not be relied upon for legal advice.
The law may change from the date of me publishing this content. Always acquire your own legal advice.
The content I create explains and outlines the laws that apply to England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland employment law varies.

Free Download

Create your menopause policy using our checklist. It covers the main topics and information you need to include in your menopause policy.