How periods can affect your working day and ways to handle discomfort

Woman suffering with period pain, how to deal with period pain at work

Let’s face it, the quality of your sleep can either make or break the next working day. There’s nothing worse than having to spend 8 hours behind a screen with only a couple of hours of sleep behind you.

Unfortunately, this is the reality for many of us who once a month are faced with the consequences of being on our period. So how exactly do periods affect your sleep?

A survey commissioned by period products retailer Bodyform around periods at night has revealed that 29% of respondents experience worse sleep in the week leading up to their cycle, and a whopping 47% of them stated they lose on average 2-3 hours of sleep per night.

Bodyform statistics, 29 percent have slept elsewhere
Bodyform statistics, 22 Percent have hidden sheets

Periods legislations surrounding the workplace

Unfortunately, lack of sleep is not the only side effect that comes with periods. Cramps, anxiety and mood swings are just some of the consequences of menstruation. These symptoms can vary in severity, yet many will have an impact on your performance at work.

Luckily, open communication around periods is becoming more and more frequent, in turn helping to bust the taboo surrounding this topic. As a result, more support for women+ who menstruate is becoming available in the workplace and some countries have even started to introduce menstrual leave (that is sick leave if you’re in chronic pain due to your period).

Spain is the first European country to approve a bill on period leave, which might become law at the end of the year. In some Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia, Japan and South Korea, these measures are already in place – in Japan, the legislation has been in effect for over 70 years.

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Tips on coping with your period before and during work

So, how can you ease discomfort when having to go about your working day while in pain? While we (un)patiently wait for more European countries to jump on the menstrual leave bandwagon, we can explore a few ways of easing period pain and discomfort ahead of and during the working day.

  1. Turn to yoga and exercise

Even though exercise may be the last thing on your mind, a gentle workout before heading into the office can ease discomfort. There are a few yoga positions which are highly recommended at the start of your menstrual cycle when you’re more likely to experience heavy cramping:

  1. Cobra
  2. Cat
  3. Cow
  4. Fish

These stretches should be held for 30 to 60 seconds and are best done when the body is warm, for example after a bath or shower. Other exercises that may help you ease your discomfort are:

  1. Low back and glute stretch
  2. Kneeling abdominal twist
  3. Shift back arm rotation
  4. Glute bridge

Why not see if your workplace offers wellness courses, like yoga or Pilates too? Head there while on your lunch break as they might do wonders for you.

  1. Invest in appropriate but comfy workplace clothes

There’s nothing worse than wearing tight trousers when you’re bloated and the period cramps are coming in strong. Some workplaces have strict rules when it comes to the dress code but there are many items of clothing that are work appropriate yet also comfortable enough while you’re sitting down.

Buy trousers or skirts that have an elastic waist band and can stretch according to the girth of your waist. Dresses are also a great alternative especially if you go for an oversized kind; you’ll be free to move around and even have space to fit a hot water bottle underneath if necessary!

  1. Keep a heat pad or hot water bottle in your drawer/locker

Hot water bottles or heat pads are your drawer/locker must haves when you’re menstruating. The heat brings blood flow to your pelvic area which helps relax the muscles that cause discomfort in the first place.

If you haven’t tried it before, now is your time to do so. Whip it out during those afternoons when the cramps feel a little too overwhelming.

  1. Head out for a lunchtime massage

There are a couple of massages which are great for period pains. Again, some workplaces may offer wellness treatments too and it might be a good idea to check them out before you start your day or on your lunch break.

Ask your masseuse for either one of the massages below as they’re the most effective when it comes to easing period cramps:

  1. Compression massage technique
  2. Foot massage technique

These are just some of the tips to make work more bearable while on your cycle. But there are many more ways to get your workplace to support you and your colleagues while being on your period. For example, check out this article on top tips to encourage your workplace to provide period products.

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