Many women worldwide find themselves isolated, ashamed, and limited when it comes to their menstrual cycles, not to mention unable to fully participate in life outside of their homes because of them. Menstruation awareness and period positivity are on the rise, but there’s still work to break the taboo surrounding menstruation at work.
Let’s use these steps to break the taboo surrounding menstruation at work and ensure that each woman’s months are as easy as possible.
The link between menstrual cycles and mental health
There’s a significant link between mental health and menstrual cycles. According to a study up to 80-90% of menstruating women will experience symptoms during the reproductive years that forewarn them of the upcoming period cycle. This has been called PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder).
It is characterized by:
- Changes in eating habits and sleeping patterns,
- Physical symptoms like breast tenderness or swelling, headaches, joint or muscle pain, bloating, or weight gain.
These symptoms are severe enough to interfere with daily life for some women. In fact, according to some estimates, 2-5% of menstruating women are affected by severe premenstrual syndrome each month.
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While it may be difficult for men to understand how debilitating PMS can be, they need to recognize its impact on women’s lives. Even if they don’t fully comprehend what women go through during their periods, they should still strive to make them feel comfortable sharing any struggles they might be experiencing with work performance or personal relationships.
How treating periods as taboo can affect the workplace?
Periods have an astonishingly powerful ability to affect performance. As a result, businesses suffer by failing to reach their full potential. Treating periods as a taboo can negatively affect the workplace in the following ways:
- Absenteeism and sickness
- Low Morale and Reduced Job Satisfaction
- Gender Equity Issues
- Lower Productivity
- High-Stress Level
- Health Risks
- Lowered Productivity During Menstruation
It’s time we break through these taboos and realize just how much we can accomplish if we don’t hold ourselves back.
[ Also check: The six dimensions of women’s wellness ]
Why are we so intimidated by periods?
Menstrual cycles can have a psychological and physiological impact on women. We don’t have a set time frame for menstruating, and sometimes our cycles get longer or shorter. While many women know all these factors, they are still intimidated by period conversations.
One reason is that talking about periods is often seen as taboo in society. But breaking taboos starts with a conversation, and then the action comes shortly after. So, let’s break some taboos!
Breaking the periods taboo at work
Breaking taboos is never easy, especially when it comes to periods. Why is it taboo for a woman at work to announce she has her period? Why does it make other women feel uncomfortable? Unfortunately, menstrual talk still runs counterculture in many workplaces. But if we want our offices to be a truly equal place for women, that needs to change.
Here are some tips to shed the shame surrounding the menstrual cycle.
#1. Be open about your menstrual cycle.
If you’re a woman who doesn’t mind being open about her period, then it’s time for you to lead by example. Talk openly about your period with your colleagues and friends to break down taboos surrounding menstruation and women’s health issues.
You don’t have to be vulgar or graphic—just talking openly can go a long way toward normalizing periods and promoting conversation around them.
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#2. Don’t be afraid to ask about menstrual cycles.
Suppose you’re a woman who’s not comfortable talking about your period. In that case, you can still promote menstrual awareness, by simply asking questions and being curious about other women’s experiences with their periods.
For example, if a female colleague mentions she has her period, don’t be afraid to ask how it is or what products she uses during that time of the month—make sure your questions are polite and professional!
#3. Promote menstrual awareness and period positivity through your social media channels.
If you’re active on social media, you can use it as a platform for promoting menstrual awareness and encouraging discussion about periods in general.
For example, if you see a Facebook post or Tweet that promotes period positivity or breaks down taboos surrounding menstruation, share it with your followers—and ask them to do the same! With enough support from people like you, we can help make offices more equal places for women.
#4. Create an open space where people feel comfortable talking about their periods.
If you’re a manager or supervisor, you can promote menstrual awareness by creating a more open environment for discussion around menstruation and women’s health issues.
For example, if someone asks you about your period, don’t be afraid to talk openly with them—and don’t be afraid to discuss these topics with your female or male employees! If we want our offices to be equal places for women, we need everyone on board with that goal.
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#5 Hold a menstruation awareness event in your office.
If you’re a manager or supervisor, you can take your menstrual awareness efforts to another level by holding an event that promotes period positivity and breaks down taboos surrounding menstruation.
For example, you could hold a Menstrual Awareness Day (28th May) where everyone talks openly about their periods and shares information about women’s health issues in general.
What to do if someone asks you a question that makes you feel uncomfortable?
Nobody can force you to answer a question you don’t want to answer, not even your boss. If he asks why you’re taking time off work during your period, say that it is personal and refuse to elaborate.
Many people are breaking down taboos surrounding menstruation, and period positivity is on its way. You might also try broaching these conversations with others; support each other in our relationships with our bodies. And if no one approaches you about it? Consider asking them!