It’s 2021, and period pain is still not taken seriously. In fact, those who experience period pain often get dismissed as being overdramatic. In this patriarchal society, we have men who control and have autonomy over women, for example, regarding abortion laws.  

Women make up almost 40% of the global workforce. But, 1 in 10 women’s menstrual cramps are so severe, yet menstrual leave is not an option for many. Women are often discriminated against and made to feel weak for admitting to period pain and just told to ‘deal with it. 

One of the latest trends making its way around TikTok/YouTube is men reacting to using a period cramp simulator. A trend going viral as it has brought about many laughs from the reactions of men trying it out, who are shocked and in disbelief that period cramps are that painful. At the surface level, these videos are made with the intention of going viral. However, the underlying question is, why are you not believing us when we tell you about the pain we endure? Ultimately, these viral videos raise awareness about period pains. 

Now that you know how painful it is, do you believe that you could go to work with that pain? So why not stand in solidarity with us when we ask for menstrual leave? 

Menstrual leave is a type of leave where a woman may have the option to take paid or unpaid leave from her employment if she is menstruating and unable to work due to this. 

Countries that offer menstrual leave

As of yet there are far too few countries that have implemented menstrual leave: 

  • Indonesia 
  • Taiwan
  • Zambia 
  • South Korea 
  • Japan 

There is usually a maximum of three days per month to use as part of menstrual leave in these countries. Despite this, in these countries, the policies are seen as controversial and hardly used. There are many reasons for this, from the stigma attached to periods and also discrimination in male-dominated work environments. In Europe, there is no country with a national menstrual leave. In 2017, a proposal was introduced by the Italian Parliament to introduce menstrual leave. However, this proposal did not pass. 

There are some companies that already have menstrual leave as a company policy to use such as Future Super who have introduced both menstrual and menopause leave.

The pandemic has brought about a new wave of work as we know it: remote working. Many people have taken a liking to this, and even when lockdown restrictions are all lifted, we may never go back to working in the office Monday-Friday. Flexible working or fully remote working is the future of work as we know it, and as a result, new work-life benefits should be implemented.

Why menstrual leave should be implemented

Period pain, or dysmenorrhea, is pain that occurs just before or during a period. It’s important to understand and recognize that period pain is different for everyone. For some, the pain can be chronic. Symptoms of period pain can range from cramps to vomiting. Period pain is classed into two different types: primary and secondary

Primary is a result of menstruation alone, and secondary is as a result of another medical condition, for example, endometriosis. In the same way period pain is different for everyone, coping with period pain is also different for everyone. This could include taking tablets such as ibuprofen to heat therapy. 

By implementing menstrual leave, it will begin a healthy conversation in the workplace that normalizes and de-stigmatizes menstruation. There are many psychological and physical benefits to menstrual leave. From increasing overall well-being of employees and therefore productivity levels. 

An argument against menstrual leave that is often brought up in conversation is that when enforcing menstrual leave, it is seen as ‘special treatment for women.’ As a result, discrimination against women in the workplace rises. However, menstrual leave should not be seen as a luxury, rather a necessity. With menstrual products finally being classed as necessities, menstrual leave should be perceived in the same way. 

Read also:
Scotland: First Country In The World To Make Period Products Free
My Journey With Endometriosis
Let’s Normalize This: Openly Carrying Menstrual Products To The Restroom