Let’s talk Gender Equality
Over the past few decades there’s been much talk and action on this thing called Gender Equality. Long before it had a name, pioneering women paved the way with better access to education, healthcare and of course the vote.
The name Gender Equality has now created a movement with the power to drive real change especially in the workplace, our schools and universities.
There have been some hopeful signs of improvement in the workplace around childcare leave for both parents, however, the question of equal pay and conditions without gender bias, for the same skill-sets are still in question and still being refined.
One glaring area however, where there is little to no progress is menstruation. Women struggle to have it recognised as an issue that’s just as important to their rights for equal treatment and protection.
How bad is menstruation anyway?
It is estimated that up to 90% of all women experience pain and other issues during their reproductive years. These years can be on average from 12 to 50 years of age in the case of menstruation.
It’s no picnic after periods either, menopause goes beyond 70 years of age for some, encompassing the stages of peri-menopause, menopause and post-menopause, all with issues that need understanding and sensitivity.
Just looking at ‘the period years’, we can experience many of these symptoms, that frequently occur together:
- PMS Anxiety,
- Brain Fog and fatigue
- period cramping pain in varying degrees of severity (sometimes so severe the person cannot even get out of bed)
- headaches/migraines, vomiting (in some cases this can cause the individual to remain housebound for the days of their period)
- serious and chronic illnesses such and Adenomyosis, PCOS and Endometriosis.
Endometriosis, PCOS and Adenomyosis are serious chronically painful conditions with no cure. They are hard to diagnose, and the only fully effective treatment is invasive surgery. In the case of Endometriosis these surgeries can be many with the associated, often times difficult and long recovery times.
Now, let’s examine the facts… 👇
- Western Sydney University researchers found that 40 percent of women had taken a day off work or school/uni due to period pain.
- Menstrual cramps are responsible for an average of nine days of lost productivity per year.
- Around 80% of women experience period pain at some stage in their lifetime.
- One in 3 women quit daily activities owing to menstrual symptoms.
Overall, this data proves that period pain can affect one’s ability to perform everyday tasks, including work and study.
Employer vs Employee
As you can imagine from an employer’s perspective, having an employee that is absent or not fully productive every month (due to the pain, brain fog, anxiety, and fatigue) does not encourage them to employ such a person or keep them on the payroll.
From the employee’s perspective under these conditions it’s difficult to find a job let alone keep one, and even if they do manage to get a job and keep it, their opportunities for advancement can be seriously damaged due the monthly issues.
“Absenteeism from those who suffer severe period pain every
month is the biggest impediment to economic equality.” .
What’s in the medical toolkit for menstrual symptoms?
In all cases long term use of pain medications have traditionally been the only answer – along with their serious side effects always lurking in the background. For paracetamol, potential liver damage from taking too many, for ibuprofen and other NSAIDS stomach ulcers are a real risk and for opioids such as codeine, addiction issues have seen them taken off the shelves.
The next thing to do is to visit your doctor, but the only thing our poor doctors have in their toolkit has been to offer women the contraceptive pill or advise them to get pregnant. We would all agree this is not appropriate for a 12-year-old experiencing her first periods or anyone else for that matter, really.
Is there a natural, safe and fast-acting alternative?
There is only one natural, fast-acting, drug-free solution in the world today and that is khapregesic. It is fast being adopted as a powerful alternative for safe, fast-acting menstrual pain relief especially for those with crippling symptoms.
The makers of khapregesic are truly changing lives providing stability during menstruation, mid-cycle ovulation and menopause. This stability is at the core of delivering Gender Equality outcomes when it comes to menstruation in everyday life.
Workplace Success Story
The concept of menstrual leave can also be a natural alternative to pain drugs.
A local workplace that adopted menstrual leave is Victoria Women’s Trust. The Trust performed an online survey of 3,400 people (across Australia and globally) which gave them valuable insight to those who were experiencing menstruation and menopause. One survey result which sparked interest was that 58% of respondents said that a day off to rest would make their period a better experience every month.
Soft sentiments of ‘rest’ and having a ‘better experience’ pale while witnessing a team member doubling over one day due to period pain and having to head home. As a result of this incident, the menstrual leave trial was strongly endorsed by the Board.
Their policy includes various options for employees experiencing period pain. These options include working from home, taking paid menstrual leave or being at the workplace and resting in a quiet area.
Lastly, to help other workplaces, Victoria Women’s Trust have even loaded a menstrual leave policy template on their website.
Executive Director, Mary Crooks’ words of wisdom 👇
“Experiences of menstruation and menopause can be very debilitating, yet we have been enculturated to mask its existence in the workplace, at schools and at home. This policy supports women in their ability to adequately self-care during their period and menopause, while not being penalised by having to deplete their sick leave.”
Often unspoken for good reasons, period stigma can be one argument made against menstrual leave.
Whether people feel comfortable sharing or believe it may prejudice their promotion prospects or even threaten their employment, it is important to respect the rights of the individual.
To uncover the extent of period stigma, 2,000 people were surveyed about their experiences in the workplace:
- 47% of people who bleed believe there is a definite stigma around periods in the workplace.
- There is currently a lack of conversation around menstruation in the workplace, 60% said they felt unable to discuss periods at all with their colleagues or managers. In male-dominated workspaces, it is even worse with 75% saying they were completely unable to address or discuss their periods at work.
- 57% have had to lie to their managers about their sick leave.
These stats are alarming, especially because period stigma can have such an impact on self-esteem and mental health generally. Our cycle is a natural monthly occurrence. Therefore, it should NOT be avoided in the workplace; it should be welcomed each month with the due care and respect it deserves.
The time for period pain complacency is over.
The Gender Equality movement now has close to 200 UN member countries behind it with the power to drive real global change.
“Gender Equality is a fundamental human right and a necessary
foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world.“ United Nations Sustainability Goal 5.
The time for period pain complacency is over – this is a serious global problem affecting every economy on earth. Studies confirm that over 1 billion people world-wide need to use pain medication every month for severe period pain.
Our promise at Khapregesic is to help challenge prejudice around women’s health and elevate vital conversations. Drop us a line with your thoughts or write a blog for us to publish in your name.
Sources:UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 Studies confirm that close to 90% of women of reproductive age experience Period Pain. Of these women it is estimated that half, 1.3 billion, or 15% of global populations , require medication for severe period pain and pre-menstrual symptoms , with many forced to take days off from education and paid employment. A study in the Journal of Pain Research indicates that 55% of young women have an association between menstrual pain and the need for medication. A study in the Royal Australian College of General Practitioner Journal indicates 58% of young women have an association between menstrual pain and the need for medication. Severe pre-menstrual symptoms can manifest in many forms such as: discomfort from bloating, painful breast tissue, shivers, back pain and brain fog, just to mention a few. Helping others covers the full spectrum of ages and conditions from first period issues with teens and their mothers, pain issues with working mothers, and sharing peri and post menopausal life challenges with women my own age. Khapregesic is relieving symptoms from the entire menstrual cycle for many people, inclusive of period pain, mid-cycle ovulation pain, the pain from endometriosis, endo post-surgery recovery, adenomyosis, poly-cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and many other reproductive and hormonal issues. We offer educational IGTV videos, blogs and posts on topics from diet and exercise to mindfulness, all focused on reducing the painful effects of the entire menstrual cycle all the way through to menopause and beyond.