With no menstrual leave in the UK, 8 in 10 women say they're being held back by their period. WUKA experts discuss how to manage your period at work.
Having a period at work
The Spanish government recently approved their menstrual leave bill, which entitles people suffering with period-related problems to paid time off work, if they need it. This is big news. This is the world waking up to what we have to go through each month, and what we’ve traditionally been told to just put up with- and stay quiet about. We applaud the Spanish government for this!
But here in the UK the story is very different, with many people being forced to either call in sick or to take unpaid leave for menstrual health issues. As a result, lots are struggling at work due to their period, n many feel unable to bring it up with their employer.
An article by The Big Issue highlights the extent of the problem, reporting that a staggering 8 in 10 women say their career is being held back by their period. 85% say that dealing with their period at work makes them feel anxious and stressed, and one in five say they can’t take time off for menstrual health reasons, with two thirds saying embarrassment stops them from talking about their period at all.
And because we believe that nothing should hold you back in life- especially your period!- we find this news so frustrating. Because this shows that not only are young girls missing out on school, activities, sports and other events, but the stigma that holds them back in adolescence is continuing into adulthood. The taboos are still big enough to stop us from achieving our goals and reaching the same levels of success as men. As if the gender pay gap wasn’t enough!
It seems that for many UK women, having a period at work is not easy. UK charity, Bloody Good Period, reported in 2021 that 27% felt unsupported at work when it came to periods, and 4% said that they don’t even get access to a loo at work. 56% agreed that time off work for menstrual health issues would be welcomed- and yet, even knowing that this would enable more women to progress in their careers, this is not a move the UK government seems likely to make right now.
So, if we can’t take paid menstrual leave- for now- what can we do to make having a period at work at little easier?
How to survive your period at work
We hate to use the word ‘survive’ but sadly, for some of us, this is the only way to describe it. Managing your period at work can be hard, but there are things you can do to make it as comfortable as possible.
If you do find that your period symptoms are bad enough to stop you form carrying out your normal activities, such as work, make an appointment to see your doctor to discuss potential treatments that cold help.
It goes without saying, but if period cramps are getting you down and you’re finding it difficult to concentrate on work, make sure you’re taking some pain relief. Take some before you leave the house, and always have some with you so you can keep on top of the pain throughout the day too.
Period pants are hands down your number one best friend when it comes to managing your period at work. They’re super comfortable and highly absorbent. They can be worn for up to 12 hours and will hold up to 4 tampons worth of blood if you go for our heavy flow pants. That means less trips to the loo, and added peace of mind knowing you won’t leak through.
Period pants might also help to cut down on painful cramps too, especially if you go for the high waisted style, or our Stretch Seamless- designed to grow with your bloating for extra comfort. Plus if you’re having to change in a cramped cubicle, take a look at our Flex Bikini with detachable straps- these pants are also multi-size, and can be changed without undressing, so are also great for work.
Plan your day
If you know you have a busy day ahead of you, it can’t hurt to plan out your toilet breaks a little. And if you’re lucky enough to have a regular cycle, you can always try to plan important events and meetings for the days where you know your period might be less of an issue. Cycle tracking can really help here.
We can’t stress this enough! Staying hydrated is so important at all times of the month, and especially during your period. Drinking plenty of fluids will help to ease cramps and bloating, not to mention headaches-plus it can improve cognitive function too.
And it doesn’t have to just be water either- herbal teas and some juices can be effective at not only hydration, but at easing cramps too.
Go for a walk
Gentle exercise is a great way to boost endorphins and get the serotonin flowing, and leaving the office for a gentle walk outside will help to clear your mind too. Try to make it a habit to at least get up from your desk once an hour if you can’t actually leave for a walk.
If you usually either eat your lunch at your desk, or end up skipping it altogether, this one is for you. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is essential for physical and emotional wellbeing- and missing a meal will almost certainly have you reaching for less healthy snacks when you get the chance.
Pack your lunch the night before and make sure that you take some time- even if only ten minutes- to eat it without the distraction of a screen.
Dress for comfort
There’s nothing worse than sitting at a desk on your period with clothes that feel too tight and restrictive (thanks, period bloating!) or inadequate period protection you’re not sure is up to the job.
Eliminate the stress by dressing for comfort, and that goes for underwear too. Again, period pants are your best friend- reliable, comfortable, like a hug when you need it most.
Can you take time off work for period pain in the UK?
Currently in the UK, there is no menstrual leave policy. This means that if you need to take time off for period pain, it would be unpaid.
How to manage period cramps at work?
The best way to manage cramps is by making sure you stay on top of pain relief, and stay hydrated. Moving regularly will help too, so try to aim for a short walk at least once, and to get up from your desk regularly.
What are the best period products to use at work?
We think period pants are the best option- they’re comfortable, easy to use and super absorbent.