In a recent report released by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), it has been revealed that more than two-thirds of women experience a negative impact on their work due to menstruation symptoms.
The report, titled “Menstruation and Support at Work,” surveyed over 2,000 women, shedding light on the challenges women face in the workplace related to their menstrual health.
According to the findings, a staggering 69 percent of women reported having a negative experience at work because of their menstruation symptoms.
The most commonly cited symptoms included abdominal cramps (60%), irritability (52%), fatigue (49%), and bloating (49%). The report emphasises that these symptoms can significantly affect women’s professional lives.
In response to these findings, the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, is calling on organisations to raise awareness, address the stigma surrounding menstruation, and equip managers with the confidence and inclusivity needed to discuss menstrual health with employees.
Disturbingly, the report also indicates that some women endure their symptoms at work, with 61 percent admitting to working when they did not feel well enough to do so. Also, 20 percent took sick leave due to menstruation-related issues.
The impact of these symptoms on women’s careers is evident, with respondents noting:
- 63% feeling less able to concentrate
- 50% experiencing increased stress
- 49% being less patient with colleagues or clients
- 38% feeling less confident at work
The report highlights that 15 percent of women also reported having menstrual health conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), or endometriosis. Of those formally diagnosed with such conditions, a staggering 81 percent reported a negative impact on their work due to menstruation symptoms.
An alarming revelation from the report is that 49 percent of women never disclose to their managers that their absence from work is related to their menstrual cycle. This reluctance is attributed to 45% feeling that the issue would be trivialized and 43 percent feeling embarrassed.
Despite the prevalence of these challenges, only 12 percent of women surveyed stated that their organisations provide support for menstruation and menstrual health conditions. The report suggests that employees would appreciate various forms of support, including free period products, paid time off for medical appointments, and paid sick leave.
Claire McCartney, Senior Resourcing and Inclusion Adviser at the CIPD, commented on the findings, stating:
“Our latest report on menstruation and support at work underscores the need for a more empathetic and understanding working environment. Employers can greatly improve the working lives of employees who experience menstruation symptoms by creating inclusive, supportive work environments and training managers to have a better understanding of the impact it can have.” McCartney added that simple measures, such as adopting flexible working practices and providing information about external resources, can make a significant difference without imposing a substantial cost on businesses.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.