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Petra Simic

Bupa UK

Clinical Director at Bupa Health Clinics

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Quarter of women “forced to take time off due to period pain.”


A recent UK study of 2,000 British women has revealed how much periods are affecting women during their daily lives, particularly in the workplace. New research by Bupa reveals over a third of women (36%) lie when justifying missing work and often disguise period pain as a stomach bug, having the flu or a cold.

Nearly half (46%) say they are not comfortable talking about their period as a reason for needing time off work.

Up to 67% of respondents felt they would be more open and honest with a female line manager than male.

The research commissioned by Bupa UK found nearly a quarter (23%) have been forced to have time off work due to their periods and nearly one in ten (8%) have had two or more days off in the last six months alone.

Scottish respondents are the least likely to discuss their periods in work or with their managers, with 61% saying they don’t feel comfortable.

Younger women are more likely to hide the truth with 58% of those under 25 giving the excuse of flu or a stomach bug to disguise period pain.

Dr Petra Simic, Clinical Director at Bupa Health Clinics, said: “Monthly cycles can affect women in many ways: they can leave women feeling irritable, anxious and fatigued. For many women, their period is an uncomfortable time that can disrupt their daily routine. It’s not surprising to see that many women have had to take time off or change their behaviour because of their monthly cycle.

“If you’re an employer and you notice a change in one of your employees, it’s important to make sure your team feels supported. It might not feel like a comfortable conversation to have with them, but it’s important and can help employees feel more at ease working on their period.”

My top five tips for employees to handle that uncomfortable time of the month:

  • Make sure you’re prepared: not everyone has regular periods; if you have an irregular monthly cycle, make sure you’ve got everything you need. Carrying sanitary products and any pain relief you usually use around with you can avoid any of the stresses of being caught out.
  • Monitor your cycle: you should keep an eye out for abnormal bleeding patterns, any bleeding in-between periods, or bleeding after intercourse. It’s not uncommon for women to miss a period if under lots of stress, but if you’re experiencing any of these issues book a routine appointment to discuss with your GP.
  • Learn what works for you: managing the symptoms that come with your period is important and can help it to cause as little disruption to your day-to-day life as possible. If you know what works, try and stay armed with what you need at all times.
  • Take time to relax: it’s common to feel anxious, irritated and stressed during your cycle, so make sure you take time to chill out. Doing some moderate exercise, taking a long bath or reading your favourite book may help you to relax.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help: there are lots of different resources out there, so don’t be afraid to speak to a friend, family member or GP if you’re finding it hard to cope.

For more information on how periods can affect you and what to look out for, head to:

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Petra Simic

Clinical Director at Bupa Health Clinics

Read more from Petra Simic