Period pain causes almost 9 days of productivity loss at work or school for women, study suggests

Pain stemming from a woman’s period causes a little more than eight days of productivity loss a year in schools and workplaces, according to a recent study.

The survey-based study recruited Dutch women through social media from July until October 2017. In total, 32,758 women between the ages of 15 and 45 answered questions regarding symptoms they experience during their period.

The findings were published Thursday in the BMJ Open Medical Journal.

Researchers found that based on the information provided, about 8.9 days of productivity was lost per year primarily while women were suffering through their period symptoms at work or school.

“There is an urgent need for more focus on the impact of these symptoms, especially in women under 21 years, for discussions of treatment options with women of all ages and, ideally, more flexibility for women who work or go to school,” the study indicated.

Researchers said the goal was to see if productivity was affected because of a woman’s period. It was measured by women who were absent from work or school (called “absenteeism”) and productivity loss while they were at work or school during their period (called “presenteeism”).

About 13.8 percent of women reported calling out from work or being absent from school at some point during their period, while 3.4 percent reported being out every time.

The average amount of absences came out to 1.3 days per year, but 80 percent of participants said they were less productive at work or school because of their period. That average came out to about 23.2 days per year.

An average total loss of productivity came out to 33 percent, which is about 8.9 days of total lost productivity per year, according to the study.

The study also found that women under 21 were more likely to call out or miss school because of period-related symptoms.

Women told researchers that when they called out because of their menstrual cycle, only 20.1 percent actually told their employer or school it was due to period symptoms.

“Despite being almost two decades into the 21st century, discussions about (menstrual-related symptoms) may still be rather taboo,” the study’s abstract said.

Nearly 70 percent of participants said they wished for greater flexibility in their tasks or hours at work or school when they were on their periods.

In the conclusion, researchers indicated that period-related symptoms caused productivity loss and that women who were at work suffering through the pain hindered productivity more than calling out sick.

“Future research should identify how women affected by (menstrual-related symptoms) could be helped best and how their productivity can be improved in order to reduce the societal impact regarding absenteeism and presenteeism,” the study said.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.