Most women have suffered through the agony of having to sit at work doubled over their desk while their uterus twists itself into knots. They will regularly glance at the clock to check how safe it is to take the next dose of painkillers to try and dull the stabbing pain. A female colleague might look at you knowingly, but this is something most women don’t talk about openly; they only whisper of their pain through clenched teeth.
Studies vary, but period pain or dysmenorrhea affects an estimated nine out of 10 women, according to Lifestyle SA and can be severe enough to interfere with a woman’s ability to function normally. In fact, new research by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) says menstrual pain can be as painful as a heart attack. The symptoms include depression, bloating, migraines and even vomiting.
The AAFP says 25-50% of adult women and about 75% of adolescents experience pain with menstruation, with five to 20% reporting severe dysmenorrhea or pain that prevents them from participating in their usual activities.
In light of this, some organisations are now giving their employees days off for period pain. UK company CoExist has implemented “period leave” in a move to remove the stigma around periods and to make the working environment comfortable for its female employees. They also believe this will make these staffers more productive.
International sportswear organisation Nike also offers period leave to its staff members, and many provinces in countries like Japan, Taiwan and South Korea also allow it.