Corporate Wellness

How To Manage Period Pain At The Workplace

Dealing with period pain can be daunting, especially when you're at work. However, with the right care, you can manage period pain and stay productive at the same time.

By Simran
28 Mar 2023

Managing period pain is not easy, especially when you're at work. While most workplaces have policies that allow employees to take sick leave for medical reasons, menstrual pain is often dismissed or stigmatised.

​​Menstrual pain can have a significant impact on productivity. According to a 2018 Journal of Women's Health study published in the, women who experienced severe menstrual pain were 4.4 times more likely to report missing work.

Still, many women feel that they have to hide their pain and soldier on, which can affect their productivity and well-being. However, there are several ways to manage period pain at work, and it's important to communicate with your manager to get the support you need.


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1. Be Prepared

If you know that your period is due, make sure you have everything you need to manage your pain. This includes pain relief medication, heating pads, and comfortable clothing.You can keep the track of your menstrual cycle with period tracking apps .Also, try to streamline your work ahead of time, so that you don’t have to overwork on your period days and keep the work pressure light.


Related Story: How to Delay Your Period Safely - A Gynae’s Guide


2. Use Heat Therapy

One of the easiest ways to manage period pain is by using heat therapy. You can use a heating pad or a hot water bottle on your abdomen to relieve menstrual cramps. If you don't have access to a heating pad, there are many new products available in the market such as heat patch to alleviate menstrual cramps. Also, compact electric hot compress and period cramp relief roll on should be on the go list for your menstrual days.


3. Over-the-Counter Pain Relief

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help manage menstrual cramps. Make sure to keep some pain relief with you at work, so you can take it as soon as you feel cramps.

According to a 2015 study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, NSAIDs were found to be more effective than placebo in relieving menstrual pain. NSAIDS include medicines like ibuprofen and naproxen. The study also found that NSAIDs were more effective than other pain relievers such as acetaminophen.

Also, make sure you don’t take the medicines on an empty stomach as this may worsen the situation because of acidity.


4. Stay Hydrated

Drinking water can help relieve period pain by reducing bloating and helping to flush out toxins from the body. Make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day to reduce menstrual cramps.


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5. Talk To Your Manager

Communicating with your manager about your menstrual pain will help them in understanding your situation better. Let them know that you may need to take breaks to manage your symptoms or may need to work from home on certain days. If your workplace has policies in place for menstrual pain, do not hesitate to avail the facility..


6. Move Your Body

It's important to take regular breaks throughout the day. Exercise can help relieve menstrual cramps by increasing blood flow to the pelvic area. Try taking a walk during your lunch break or doing some light stretching throughout the day. Sitting for extended periods can worsen menstrual cramps. If possible, adjust your work schedule to allow for more frequent breaks.


7. Utilise Flexible Work Arrangements

Many workplaces offer flexible work arrangements, such as working from home or adjusting your hours. If your menstrual pain is severe, consider requesting these arrangements to help you manage your pain while still being productive.


8. Prioritise Self-Care

Managing period pain is not just about managing physical symptoms. It's also important to prioritise self-care, such as getting enough sleep, eating well, and practising stress-reducing techniques like meditation or deep breathing.


Related Story: How to Delay Your Period Safely


It's essential for employers to understand menstrual pain and how it can impact their employees. Period pain is a real and debilitating condition that affects many people, and it should be treated with the same seriousness as any other health condition. Managers should work to create a workplace environment that is supportive and accommodating for individuals experiencing menstrual pain.


Know the difference between normal period symptoms and unusual ones

Normal period symptoms can vary from person to person, but some common symptoms include cramping, bloating, fatigue, headaches, mood swings, and breast tenderness. These symptoms usually occur a few days before the period and continue for the first few days of the period. Normal periods usually last between 3-7 days and have a consistent cycle length.


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Abnormal period symptoms are those that are outside of the typical range of normal for a person or are significantly different from their usual menstrual pattern. Some examples of abnormal period symptoms include:

  • Heavy bleeding: If a person is bleeding excessively or for an extended period, it may be a sign of a medical issue such as fibroids or endometriosis.
  • Irregular periods: If a person's menstrual cycle is consistently irregular or they miss periods altogether, it may be a sign of a hormonal imbalance, thyroid issue, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
  • Severe cramping: While mild cramping is common during menstruation, severe cramping may indicate an underlying issue such as endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
  • Unusual pain: If a person experiences pain during sex or outside of their menstrual cycle, it may be a sign of a medical issue such as ovarian cysts or uterine fibroids.

It's essential to keep track of your menstrual cycle and any symptoms you experience during your period to help identify any potential issues. If you are concerned about your menstrual symptoms or notice any changes, it's important to speak with a healthcare provider for further evaluation and treatment.


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Is it Menstrual bleeding or Endometriosis? Know the difference.

Menstrual bleeding and endometriosis can both involve pelvic pain and bleeding, but they are different conditions with distinct causes and symptoms.

Menstrual bleeding is a natural process that occurs in fertile women as part of the menstrual cycle. It is the shedding of the uterine lining that occurs when a fertilised egg does not implant in the uterus. Menstrual bleeding typically lasts between three and seven days and occurs every 21 to 35 days. The bleeding may be light or heavy, and women may experience cramping or discomfort during this time.


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Endometriosis, on the other hand, is a medical condition in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of it. This tissue can cause pain, inflammation, and scarring in affected areas. The symptoms of endometriosis can vary from person to person, and some women may not experience any symptoms at all. However, common symptoms include:

  • Pelvic pain: Endometriosis can cause severe pain in the pelvic area, especially during menstruation. The pain may also occur during sexual intercourse or bowel movements.
  • Heavy or irregular periods: Individuals with endometriosis may experience heavy or irregular periods or bleed between periods.
  • Painful urination or bowel movements: Endometriosis can also cause pain and discomfort during urination or bowel movements, particularly during menstrual periods.
  • Infertility: Endometriosis can affect fertility by causing scarring or adhesions on the reproductive organs, making it more difficult for the egg and sperm to meet.
  • Fatigue: Many individuals with endometriosis experience fatigue, which can be caused by chronic pain, hormonal imbalances, or anaemia.
  • Other symptoms: Other symptoms of endometriosis may include bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, nausea, and headaches.

It is important to note that the severity of symptoms does not necessarily indicate the severity of the condition, as some people with mild endometriosis may experience severe symptoms, while others with severe endometriosis may experience no symptoms at all. If you suspect you may have endometriosis, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.


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Menstrual pain and work

Menstrual pain, also known as dysmenorrhea, can significantly impact a person's work performance and productivity. Menstrual pain can cause physical discomfort, fatigue, and emotional distress, interfering with daily tasks and responsibilities.

Examples of tasks that may be challenging to complete when experiencing menstrual pain include

1. Concentration And Focus: Menstrual pain can cause distractions and discomfort, making it difficult to concentrate and stay focused on tasks. This can lead to decreased productivity and increased errors.

2. Physical Work: Menstrual pain can also limit physical abilities, making it difficult to perform tasks that require physical exertion. For example, lifting heavy objects or standing for prolonged periods can be challenging when experiencing strong menstrual pain.

3. Interaction With Others: Menstrual pain can also affect a person's mood and emotional state, making it challenging to interact with others. This can lead to a decrease in communication, teamwork, and collaboration, which are essential for many jobs.


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Menstrual pain can affect a person's work performance and productivity in various ways, depending on the nature of their job. It is important for employers to recognise the impact of menstrual pain on their employees and provide appropriate support and accommodations when necessary.


Do managers understand menstrual pain?

Unfortunately, there is evidence to suggest that managers and employers may not fully understand the impact of menstrual pain on their employees and may not provide adequate support or accommodations.

Here are some statistics and studies that highlight the lack of understanding and support for menstrual pain in the workplace:

1. A 2018 study in Journal of Women's Health study found that 85 per cent of working women experience menstrual pain, and 43 per cent report that it affects their ability to work. However, only 27 per cent of employers have policies in place to support employees who experience menstrual pain.

2. A 2019 survey conducted by Plan International UK found that 82 per cent of women believe that menstrual pain is still a taboo topic in the workplace, and 70 per cent have felt uncomfortable talking to their manager about it.

3. Another study conducted by the National Institute for Health Research found that many women feel unsupported by their employers when it comes to managing menstrual pain. Many reported that their managers lacked empathy and understanding and that they were reluctant to discuss their pain with their managers for fear of being perceived as weak or unreliable.


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How can managers help?

1. Policy Changes: Employers can introduce policies that allow for flexible working hours or provide menstrual leave to employees who experience severe menstrual pain. This will allow employees to take time off work when needed without fear of losing their jobs or being penalised.

2. Education And Awareness Campaigns: Employers can organise educational programs and awareness campaigns that focus on menstrual health and the impact of menstrual pain on employees' productivity and overall well-being.

3. Accommodations: Employers can make accommodations such as providing ergonomic chairs, heating pads, or pain relief medication for employees. These accommodations will go a long way in reducing discomfort and ensuring that employees are able to perform at their best.

4. Communication: Employers should also encourage open communication between employees and management about menstrual health and related concerns. This will help to create a more supportive workplace culture where employees feel comfortable discussing their needs and seeking necessary support.

5. Empathy And Support: Employers can show empathy and support towards employees by being understanding and flexible. This will help to reduce stress and anxiety related to menstrual pain and improve the overall workplace environment for everyone.


Menstrual leave: Status in India

In India, menstrual leave is a topic of ongoing debate and discussion. It is not mandated by law, but some companies have started offering it as a part of their leave policies. The Menstruation Benefit Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha (lower house of the Indian Parliament) in 2018, which proposed that women be given two days of paid menstrual leave every month. However, the bill has not been passed yet.

In March 2017, the state government of Bihar became the first Indian state to approve a menstrual leave policy for female employees in government jobs. Under the policy, female employees can take up to two days of menstrual leave per month.

According to a 2021 survey conducted by the Indian jobs portal, Indeed, only about 24 per cent of Indian companies have a menstrual leave policy in place.

Also, in 2017, a study by the National Human Rights Commission of India found that menstrual leave could be beneficial for women, particularly those working in physically demanding jobs, as menstruation can lead to discomfort and reduced productivity.


Related story: The Ultimate Guide To Pain-Free Periods


Period pain is a common experience for many women, and it's important to prioritise your well-being and productivity at work. The above statistics are proof of the fact that women need flexibility and a supportive environment and manager during their menstrual cycle. By being prepared, taking breaks, communicating with your manager, utilising flexible work arrangements, and prioritising self-care, you can manage your menstrual pain effectively and work towards a more comfortable work experience. Remember, you deserve to feel supported and valued at work, and taking steps to manage your period pain is a crucial part of achieving that.


Need all your wellness solutions in one place? A whole new world awaits just a click away.


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