Thursday, September 16News For London

Menstrual Leave: Should we be more accomodating?

Scotland has become the first nation to offer free sanitary products for all women.

Photo credited by Halima Ahcene Djaballah

Scotland has offered free access to period products for all women. Should England be this accommodating to menstruating women as well?

What is Menstruation?

Menstruation is a natural monthly process for females which at times may be accompanied with pain and discomfort.

It is usually accompanied with painful muscle cramps in the stomach, back and thighs.

As well as free sanitary products, the question arises of whether the nation should do more to cater for menstruating females. Menstrual leave has since been a topic of debate and has already been legalised in some countries such as Japan, Indonesia and Taiwan.

Are period cramps really that bad?

Amira Uddin (25), a financial analyst, told Westminster World: “England should look into period leave as many women fear sexual harassment or perceptions of weakness in the workplace.”

Amira told us that she suffers from dysmenorrhea. This is the medical term for painful menstrual periods which are caused by uterine contractions as defined by Cleveland Clinic. She added: “I get heavy bleeding and excruciating pains…it is getting too much for me.”

Jessica Barnack-Tavlaris, professor of psychology told Health Central: ““If menstrual leave is thoughtfully implemented, it has the potential to improve the health and well-being of menstruators.” She added: “Particularly those with illnesses related to the menstrual cycle.”

Credited by Pexels

Is it a sign of weakness?

It has been argued that this may lead other women to take advantage of this scheme. According to the Guardian, 20% of women suffer from severe cramps which disrupt their daily activities.

Pie chart created by Halima Ahcene Djaballah

In the grand scheme of things, 20% may only seem like a fraction to the rest of the women who do not suffer from extreme pains.

Lara Owen, consultant on menstruation and menopause in the workplace told The BBC: “Women are going to get free time off for something that isn’t really a problem.”

A recent incident happened which caused outcry in a school for the rejection of menstrual leave. Jackie Watson, head of Oxford Spires Academy said: “Learning to deal with monthly inconvenience is all part of being a woman, I’m afraid.”

This begs the question whether this is just part of an inevitably natural process that women just have to deal with.

Negative Stigma

There is the negative stigma and embarrassment of admitting to these processes and the pain caused by them. Amira was particularly anxious and reluctant to delving too deep into her menstrual conditions.

Menstruation attaches negative misogynous thoughts. It is considered taboo to talk about it openly, so may appear hard to break these barriers and talk about it more.

Amira Uddin added: “It remains crucial for employers to ensure they are approachable and compassionate and willing to an open dialogue about this.”

A study done in the Daily Mail found that although 20% of women suffer excruciating period pains, they are similar to those of contractions felt in child birth and they do not speak up about it.

Can we find an equilibrium?

With all this in mind, a fraction of women suffer agonising pains which interfere with daily activities, be it school, work or running errands. However, these kinds of pains lead to sickness, dizziness and even fainting.

With new laws facilitating the needs of menstruating women in Scotland, we may need to reevaluate our standpoint. Menstruation for women is inevitable and for 20% of women in the UK, is hindering and exhausting.

Things to consider will perhaps be a doctors note or statement to prove extreme period pains such as dysmenorrhea. This may help employers, teachers or staff verify and allow those women to rest until they can physically return.

Just because it is natural, does it just need to be dealt with as Watson proclaimed?

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