Period pain: how does it affect women in work?

You may have seen recent articles in the news about period pain affecting women in the workplace. The menstrual cycle and period pain form a normal part of life for the majority of women of child- bearing age, so why the recent controversy?

A recent survey of 1,000 women, carried out by YouGov for BBC Radio, found that 52% of women had experienced period pain in the past to the extent that it had affected their ability to work. Interestingly, only a fraction of those surveyed had admitted the effect their periods were having to their boss.

Ninety per cent of women report having period pain at times, but for most this is mild. For the majority of women, a period is an inconvenience, with any discomfort being relieved by simple analgesics.

However, some women do suffer terribly in terms of pain (dysmenorrhoea) or with very heavy periods (menorrhagia). It is these women that may find their work is impacted.

Some studies in the past have suggested that women may generally struggle to concentrate when they are suffering from period pain, becoming slower and less accurate. This however remains mainly anecdotal. During menstruation, women may also complain of nausea, diarrhoea and headaches too.

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