Heavy periods are causing British women to take 5,581,186 sick days each year, a new survey has revealed.
The research – commissioned by Wear White Again, a campaign group that is trying to eradicate the stigma attached to heavy periods, which affects more than four million women in the UK – also reveals that the effects of period pain aren’t limited to the workplace: it can take over almost every aspect of a woman’s life. More than half of the women surveyed said that their heavy periods had meant they were unable to carry out their daily routine, while almost a third admitted that they had had to abandon their hobbies during their period. Almost half felt their relationship with their partner was affected by their heavy periods and a similar amount had been forced to miss out on social events, such as a meal with friends. As if the effects on women’s social and working lives weren’t debilitating enough, heavy periods can affect women’s mental health, with almost three-quarters experiencing anxiety and/or depression.
A truly mind-boggling 44 per cent confessed they’d rather say they had diarrhoea than admit they were taking the day off because of period pain
Wear White Again’s research is significant for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, it’s a stark reminder of how society is continuing to fail at taking women’s pain seriously. Despite one in five women suffering from heavy periods, the majority of women aren’t even aware that heavy periods are a serious medical condition and instead believe that heavy periods are “just part of being a woman” and therefore they wouldn’t even consider visiting their GP about their pain.
It also highlights the sad reality of how taboo talking about periods is in the workplace: 73 per cent said they lie to their bosses about their reason for taking a sick day and a truly mind-boggling 44 per cent confessed they’d rather say they had diarrhoea than admit they were taking the day off because of period pain. Forty-four per cent! That means almost half of the people surveyed said they would rather lead their boss to believe that they were practically shitting themselves than admit that their periods were having such an intense impact on their health that they were unable to come to work.
These 5,581,186 sick days aren’t just devastating for the women who are trying to focus on their careers – they also have larger financial implications for the country. The survey estimates that it costs the British economy £531m each year.
It’s time we started taking women’s period pain seriously – for everyone’s sake.