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A quarter of UK women have been forced to take time off due to period pain

December 15th 2017 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru / 0 comment

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New findings show that not only is period pain preventing us from working, but an uncomfortably high proportion of us would prefer to lie about it instead of discussing it with our bosses

Period pain - it’s hard enough to get out of bed with it in the morning and according to new stats, it’s preventing more and more of us from getting into the office too.

A recent BUPA study of 2,000 British women has revealed that a quarter of UK women have been forced to take time off work due to period pain, with one in ten having had two or more days off in the last six months alone.

Menstruation is a minefield and can vary hugely from person to person, ranging from mild discomfort to sharp sudden stabs and continuous pain that makes us double over in agony. Additionally, some women also experience nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting, (great being a woman isn’t it?). However, despite showing all the signs usually linked to more ‘traditional’ illnesses, the findings show that many of us feel the pressure to cover it up when needing to call in sick. Nearly half of respondents said that they weren’t comfortable talking about their period as a reason for needing time off work with 36 per cent using different reasons instead like having the flu, a cold or a stomach bug. The demographic most likely to disguise the truth? Younger women, with 58 per cent of those under 25 saying they’d rather lie than reveal the real reason for being unable to work.

The stigma surrounding talking about periods has proven to be one of the hardest shake - especially among the young. Embarrassment around the topic is still starting early, with a survey of 1,000 girls conducted in October revealing that nearly half have missed an entire of day of school because of them and 59 per cent have made up a lie or an excuse to cover it up. Affecting us from childhood to adulthood, school to office, surely this recent run of findings has proven one thing - we need to feel more comfortable talking about the discomfort (and then some) of periods and our academic and professional environments have to become better at facilitating that.

We’re proposing reversing a long-held taboo here though so this might well take some time to change. For now however, there is some useful advice to have to hand for coping with the stresses of period pain. Dr Petra Simic, Clinical Director at Bupa Health Clinic, shares her top 5 tips:

1) Make sure you’re prepared

"Not everyone has regular periods; if you have an irregular monthly cycle, make sure you’ve got everything you need. Carrying sanitary products and any pain relief you usually use around with you can avoid any of the stresses of being caught out."

2) Monitor your cycle

"The length and heaviness of periods can vary from time to time and between individuals. You should keep an eye out for abnormal bleeding patterns, in particular any bleeding in-between periods, or bleeding after intercourse. It is not uncommon for women to miss a period if under lots of stress, but erratic periods can be caused by a condition, like a thyroid disorder. If you’re experiencing any of these issues, book a routine appointment to discuss with your GP."

3) Learn what works for you

"Managing the symptoms that come with your period is important and can help it to cause as little disruption to your day-to-day life as possible. If you know what works, try and stay armed with what you need at all times. Things like drinking lots of water, getting plenty of rest and avoiding too much caffeine can also help."

4) Take time to relax

"It’s common to feel anxious, irritated and stressed during your cycle, so make sure you take plenty of time to chill out. This will help you to feel more at ease, and help you to be less cranky. Doing some moderate exercise, taking a long bath or reading your favourite book may help you to relax."

5) Don’t be afraid to ask for help

"There are lots of different resources out there, so don’t be afraid to speak to a friend, family member or GP if you’re finding it hard to cope. If you notice any changes to your monthly cycle, or you’re finding the pain unmanageable, make an appointment with your GP. They can take you through different options that can help relieve your symptoms."

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