Many women struggle to push themselves to the work place or school on the first day of their periods because of painful menstrual symptoms, like cramps. Though they wish to curl up in bed or take a day off, they don’t do it.

Symptoms of periods could affect the productivity of women, according to a global study. The study stated that women can benefit later if they take a day off or work from home during these days. The research published in the medical journal BMJ Open in June focussed on the various challenges faced by women during menses.

The research team found that women who force themselves to study or work while they are struggling with menstrual symptoms could be less productive on these days.

For the study, the researchers recruited 32,748 teen girls and women through an online campaign on Facebook and Twitter in 2017. The participants were asked about their menses cycle and symptoms. They were also asked about their productivity on the days they experienced menstrual symptoms.

Nearly one in seven participants said they took time off from their work or study due to menstrual symptoms. But only 20 percent of the participants took a few days off by revealing the real reason for their absence; many hesitated to share the real reason for their absence.

The study also found that two-thirds of the participants admitted they wished for more flexibility in work and study during their periods. They wished for “the possibility of doing less physical work ..., the ability to work from home ..., more time for personal care..., or the ability to take a day off and make up for it later."

The researchers found that around 81 percent of women pushed themselves to the work place or school even while their menses were making them sick. On an average, women took only 1.3 days of leaves for reasons associated with their periods.

When the researchers asked the participants if they were able to be productive during their bad period days, they revealed that they were unable to be as productive as they were on the normal days. The researchers found that an average woman realized herself to be nearly 33 percent less productive during those days.

“Women tend to force themselves to continue their tasks, so they often go to work, where one day of sick leave might actually be better in order to perform better in the following days,” lead researcher Theodoor Nieboer from Radboud University Medical Center told Reuters Health.

Though the study has its limitations due to the self-reporting procedure used for the survey, the researchers said it is the need of the hour to discuss various health issues faced by the women and take necessary action.

The researchers concluded the study by stating: “We have found that the impact of (menstrual symptoms) on work and school productivity is considerable and that presenteeism contributes significantly more to the matter than absenteeism. Future research should identify how women affected by (these symptoms) could be helped best and how their productivity can be improved in order to reduce the societal impact (of) absenteeism and presenteeism."

Women typically get their first period at age 12 or 13, but it can also come earlier or later. Pixabay/Pixel2013