Why Paid Menstrual Leave Is Good for Your Health, According to an Expert

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Last week, Spain became the first country in Europe to entitle workers to paid menstrual leave, meaning that workers can take time off work for painful symptoms from their period.

The US and UK currently don’t offer this benefit as standard, but we hope that more governments will take inspiration from Spain—as well as Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, and Zambia—in accommodating the impact of periods on our health.

Studies have found that the workplaces ignoring the impact of periods on an employee affects productivity considerably, as well. Research shows that people who menstruate tend to work through their period pain, and it makes them less productive. For example, a 2019 Dutch survey of 32,748 women found that this presenteeism during painful, exhausting, or heavy periods accounted for nine days of lost productivity per person, per year. 

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When you’re dealing with menstrual pain, what you eat can potentially help.

On top of productivity benefits, it turns out there are also true health benefits when you’re given flexibility to not work, or work at home, while on your period. Glamour UK asked Le’Nise Brothers—a yoga teacher, registered nutritionist, and author of the book You Can Have a Better Period*—*about the true health benefits of working from home when you’re menstruating.

“We have a greater need for rest during our periods, especially on the first one or two days, when our oestrogen levels—our feminizing, energizing hormone—are at their lowest,” Brothers explains. “Working from home allows you to go at your own pace, even waking up a bit later, without the stress of accounting for the timing of a commute.”

The ability to work in your own environment can also help people who suffer from specific conditions that affect their reproductive systems, which could make their periods more painful or difficult to manage. “This flexibility helps those with endometriosis, adenomyosis, fibroids, and painful or heavy periods who may feel anxious about going to work during their periods,” Brothers says. “Working from home means that if you’re struggling with period pain, it’s easy to pop a hot water bottle on your lap or lie down in between meetings.”

She adds that it can also alleviate any anxiety felt during your period, particularly around leakages: “When you’re working from home, there’s less pressure to be the first or last one in the office and you can feel like you have more control over your day. Some of my clients with very heavy periods have found they feel less anxious about potential leaks and/or bleeding through their clothes because it’s easy for them to make a quick clothing change.” (But if you must leave the house, these are the best leakproof period underwear.)

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