If, for some reason, you are undecided in your feelings about menstrual pain, here’s yet another reason to hate it: according to a new study, it can lead to a significant drop in productivity.
The study, published last Thursday in peer-reviewed medical journal BMJ, gathered information from 32,748 Dutch women between the ages of 15 and 45. On average, respondents said that period pain caused them to lose 8.9 days of productivity a year — nearly two full work weeks.
Only 14 per cent of the women surveyed said they avoided going to school or work due to their period. But the vast majority, 81 per cent, said that they were less productive due to menstruation-related symptoms such as cramps, heavy bleeding and changes in mood.
The people most likely to miss work or school due to their periods are under 21. And when they do, only 21 per cent reported that would tell their employer that their period is the reason they feel sick.
Many of the study’s participants, 68 per cent, said they wanted more flexibility in both their tasks and their working hours when they’re on their periods.
The study also says there’s an “urgent” need to focus more on menstrual symptoms, how they affect people, and what can be done to make working conditions easier for people who menstruate.
In some countries, including Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Korea and Zambia, women have the option to take paid menstrual leave days. Similar ideas were proposed in Russia and Italy, but never became law.
Some women’s rights advocates say menstrual leave fights stigma around periods. “Taboo and stigma are the main issues around menstruation,” educator Chella Quint told the CBC. “Not being able to talk about it with other people can make you feel isolated and you might not even be able to share why you want sick leave if your employer happens to ask.”
But others worry it could increase workplace inequality, and that men would look down on people who had access to menstrual leave.
“Even if women [didn’t] use it, knowing that there is access to it, I think, it would be a setback,” gynecologist and Queen University professor Dr. Ashley Waddington told Global News.
There are few recent Canadian studies on menstrual pain, but a 2005 study found that 60 per cent of women who experience menstrual cramps described them as “moderate” or “severe.” 51 per cent said that they limited their activities due to period pain.
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