Don't worry, sweetie. It's not sex discrimination or age discrimination that's holding you back -- it's your hormones.

And stop being so cranky about it!

According to a marketing pitch for a new hormone-replacement patch, "CORPORATE AMERICA IS WAKING UP TO THE NEED FOR MENOPAUSE MANAGEMENT."

And speaking of waking up, how about those night sweats?

The pitch from the Nixon Group, a Miami-based public relations firm, includes advice from Ranny Riley, PhD, president of LifeLines Institute, "founded to educate Corporate America about menopause," according to the news release.

"Imagine that after battling night sweats night after night, you have to participate in a meeting or presentation where everyone expects you to be sharp as a nail, yet the fatigue is overwhelming," said the firm's news release, quoting Riley, a psychologist and human resources expert. "To avoid such scenarios, women need solutions flexible enough to help them move from the bedroom to the workplace to the gym with ease. Estrogen replacement therapy is one terrific option."

"What they're trying to do is market this as a service to their menopausal, hormonally raging employees," said Ellen Bravo, co-director of the nonprofit advocacy group 9to5, the National Association of Working Women. "The subliminal message is that women's hormones make them unstable and unreliable," she said. "What women need isn't `menopause management' but humane management." Almost all workers -- women and men -- face personal, family or health crises that require some flexibility on the part of employers, she said.

A better approach for employers is to provide adequate sick leave and medical coverage, said Karen Nussbaum, director of the AFL-CIO's Working Women Department. "That's the way we need to address these issues, rather than having pharmaceutical companies engage employers in delivering a market to them."

The marketing package includes a fact sheet ascribing the "glass ceiling" -- the invisible barriers to the advance of many women up the corporate career ladder -- to the failure to talk about issues such as menopause. "Given the often-debilitating symptoms of menopause, corporate America needs to begin to ask itself how this problem is affecting workers' productivity. . . . Obviously, women need to fully understand the impact that menopause can have on their careers."

The package was sent to news organizations this week in an effort to generate publicity for the Vivelle-Dot therapy patch produced by a joint venture of Noven Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. When applied to the skin, the patch delivers a dose of the hormone estrogen, which is commonly used to treat the symptoms of menopause.

"It's not just the product. It's a call to action to women to have the full information," said Nixon Group account executive Angela D'Costa, who pointed out that the release contains "Tips for Managing Menopause in the Workplace," which is not product-related. Indeed, out of the five tips, only one mentions the Vivelle-Dot patch.

Among the other tips provided by Riley -- who D'Costa said was compensated for her work on the project -- is "Wear several layers of clothing so you can remove outer layers when a hot flash occurs.

"It's not a put-down to women at all," said D'Costa. "It's basically having women informed."

Some outside observers viewed the pitch differently.

"They're looking at menopause as a deficiency disease, using a medical perspective that suggests the only way to deal with this is through some kind of medical management," said Judith Daniluk, author of the book "Women's Sexuality Across the Lifespan."

"It goes right back to those kind of raging-hormone debates that kept women out of the workplace," Daniluk said. "What's interesting about this is it purports to be helping women."

Daniluk noted that men in their 40s and 50s often get hit by a range of health problems that can be as disruptive to their careers as any symptoms related to menopause might be for women.

"They're saying that normal physiological changes are problematic and are affecting women in a way that they are not affecting men," said Daniluk, a professor in the Department of Counseling Psychology at the University of British Columbia.

"They've got a reason for every point in our lives why women are destroying our careers," said the AFL-CIO's Nussbaum. "Younger workers are not serious enough. Older workers are destroying their careers because they have children and then, when you get the kids out of the house, they come up with another reason."