I know I'm not alone when I say I am sometimes literally stopped in my tracks by period cramps. Just last month, I was making lunch and had to literally crouch down and brace myself on the floor as a particularly wretched wave of pain came over me. So it's not surprising to me in the slightest that research has come out supporting the idea that period pain at work can absolutely affect your ability to do your job in the same way being sick can put a damper on your productivity.
As if debilitating cramps aren't enough, us gals often experience other symptoms like headaches, diarrhea, and nausea during our menstrual cycles. To say the least, it's not necessarily the most ideal time to do a presentation or deal with rude customers, you feel me?
The research supporting this idea was published in YouGov, who found that 77 percent of over a thousand Australian women surveyed felt their period affected their ability to work.
While that's an awfully high percentage, it's also worth noting only 36 percent of those women actually told their employer what was going on. Moreover, 62 percent of women felt so unwell that they either had to go home early or take the day off.
Oh, and 43 percent of women surveyed lied about their period pain and gave another reason for their inability to work.
So, it seems like it's safe to say there's still quite a lot of stigma and shame surrounding the fact that women bleed and shed the lining of their uterus every month, and have done so since the beginning of time.
Now, just to clarify, this research is not in opposition to the idea that periods don't affect a woman's cognitive ability per se, which is an important distinction. A study published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience earlier this year showed that the hormonal changes during your period don't affect your ability to use your brain. That research showed that increased hormones don't affect your perception, your working memory, or your ability to focus on two things at the same time. But they do make you feel sick — like really sick.
According to The Independent, research from University College London revealed that period pain can be as bad as having a heart attack.
And yet, ladies still continue to kick ass despite all of these struggles. These days, over 40 percent of women are the sole proprietor — or "bread-winner" — for their families, period pain and all.
In light of this new research from YouGov, the bright side is that some people are taking action to recognize the ways in which menstrual pain can sometimes affect a woman's ability to work.
For example, a Mumbai-based company recently announced they would start offering female employees a day off for the first day of their periods each month.
The company, called Culture Machine, encouraged others to do the same. In fact, there are other places in the world with these laws already in place, like China, Indonesia and Japan.
That being said, if you're still stuck trudging through the worst days of your own period cramps at work, try to remember there are things to do that might help ease the pain. Stay hydrated, always have some Advil on hand, work some light stretching into your lunch break, and have a cup of raspberry leaf tea, which is thought to help relieve cramps if sipped on a regular basis.
Of course, it's also worth noting that many women feel totally fine during their periods, and don't feel the need to take any kind of break. But the overall point here is to fully recognize that the symptoms of one's menstrual cycle can be painful enough to make you ill, and can, indeed, affect one's ability to work. And, perhaps most importantly, there should be absolutely no shame or problem in doing what you need to do to take care of that.
Women know when they're feeling well or not, and we all owe it to them to not only believe them when they open up about that pain, but also allow them the ability to do whatever they need to in order to feel better.