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Women dealing with menstrual symptoms at work say they lack support


Photo: NoSystem images/iStockphoto

Charlottesville, VA — Menstrual symptoms cause nearly half of working women to take time off, yet many don’t have their manager’s support, according to University of Virginia researchers.

The researchers asked nearly 1,900 employed women in the United States about how menstrual symptoms affect them at work. The participants also used an app to help track their menstrual cycle or track their mood or physical symptoms during and after pregnancy.

The most common menstrual symptoms the women deal with at work are cramps (91%), fatigue (85%) and bloating (81%). The majority said these symptoms negatively affect their energy levels (89%), mood (87%), concentration (77%) and interest in work (72%).

While 45% of the women reported having to miss work (an average of 5.8 days every 12 months) because of menstrual symptoms, half didn’t feel comfortable talking freely about it with their manager. Meanwhile, 48% said they didn’t get support from their manager. In addition, 95% indicated they don’t have access to a specific benefit or wellness program that could help.

In a press release, the researchers say digital health interventions, such as the period-tracking app used by the participants, can help. More than half of the women said the app helped them be prepared for and aware of their body’s signals, feel supported, improve how they manage their menstrual symptoms, and be more open with others about their symptoms.

“I think these results demonstrate just how resilient women are,” senior study author Jennifer Payne, director of the Reproductive Psychiatry Research Program at the UVA School of Medicine, said in the release. “They are able to continue to work and be productive despite the significant impact that menstrual symptoms have.”

The study was published online in the journal Digital Health.

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