‘The British Standards Institution (BSI) has published a workplace standard to tackle taboos and help employers keep talented people in work.

It suggests more training for managers and offering flexible work patterns.’ (BBC, May 2023)


The guidelines in ‘The British Standard BS 30416, Menstruation, menstrual health and menopause in the workplace’ aim to support the health and well-being of employees who menstruate, or who are experiencing the perimenopause or menopause.


The Fawcett Society, a women’s rights charity, found that ‘one in 10 women who worked during the menopause has left a job due to their symptoms.’

How do menstruation, perimenopause and menopause affect the employees who are going through these stages?


·     Physically – they may experience irregular and unpredictable bleeding, discomfort from excessive bleeding, cramps and joint pains, etc.

·     Mentally – they may be more forgetful or distracted and fearful of bleeding through their clothing

·     Emotionally, they may experience low mood, mood swings and irritability.

Menopause at work



How do the effects of menstruation, perimenopause and menopause affect companies?


When employees are experiencing the symptoms listed in the bullet points above, their work quality and attendance are likely to be affected. This may lead to issues around capability or disciplinary action due to increased sick leave and in turn, this creates a risk of employers being accused of discrimination.


When employers have a range of policies in place that support all of their workforce, their employees are often less stressed, happier and more motivated. When employers are supportive, it has a positive impact on staff retention and recruitment too.


Which menstrual conditions should employers be more aware of?


Endometriosis is the most common of a range of health conditions experienced by people who are menstruating. A recent blog post by Dr Maria Tomlinson states that:


Endometriosisis a condition that can cause debilitating symptoms such as pain and excessive bleeding. Although awareness of endometriosis remains low and doctors can take many years to diagnose it, endometriosis is a common health condition. Employers and occupational health teams should therefore consider endometriosis as seriously as they would more widely recognised conditions such as diabetes. It is estimated that 10% of women have endometriosis. Symptoms can impact the attendance of employees, as well as their ability to complete tasks effectively. Employees who have endometriosis may therefore require reasonable adjustments to their working lives, such as flexible working, time off for medical appointments, and access to occupational health services. Employees with other menstrual health conditions, such as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder(PMDD) and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), may also require reasonable adjustments.’

How do the new guidelines link to fertility?

It is important to be aware that women who are struggling with medical conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS and early menopause, may also be going through fertility treatment, as these conditions can lead to difficulties in conceiving naturally.

The number of people having fertility treatment has increased considerably over the last 30-40 years. According to the HFEA, ‘In 1991 there were around 6,700 IVF cycles recorded at licensed fertility clinics in the UK. By 2019, the number of cycles had increased tenfold to over 69,000.’

Despite the impact that this has had on workplace absence rates, with time off for appointments, treatment and associated symptoms, only 16% of companies have a supportive fertility policy in place.

In addition to this, only 42% of women going through fertility treatment actually told their boss, due to the stigma attached and a fear of workplace discrimination.

Fertility treatment is emotionally and physically challenging and not feeling able to be open about the reasons for absence or symptoms leads to additional stress, which in turn can affect work performance, attendance and treatment success.

It is therefore in the best interest of everyone, employers and employees, to also have a workplace fertility policy in place, to ensure equality and support.


Here at The IVF Network, we understand the importance of equality for everyone going through fertility issues and treatment. We keep up-to-date with medical developments and social changes, the new laws and the support available. We provide a wide range of information, in an easy-to-access form, through our dedicated channel of experts, our website and our blog posts, to help you to make informed choices at every stage of your personal fertility journey.

We believe that education is the key to supporting both employees and employers. To increase awareness in the corporate world, we work with companies, to help them to create or improve their fertility policies. We also support them with implementation, offering workshops for line managers and employees, to increase their understanding of the impact of fertility treatment within our diverse community. Together, we can make a difference.



‘BS 30416, Menstruation, menstrual health and menopause in the workplace’ Dr. Maria Tomlinson


‘Fertility treatment 2019: trends and figures’ HFEA


‘One in four women undergoing fertility treatment experience unfair treatment at work’  


‘The 2023 Workplace Infertility Stigma Survey: do UK workplaces offer sufficient support for employees on their fertility journeys?

The 2023 Workplace Infertility Stigma Survey: do UK workplaces offer sufficient support for employees on their fertility journeys?

‘Menopause and periods guidance is a ‘magnificent step forward’ BBC, 31st May 2023


‘Menopause and the workplace’ Fawcett