Nearly one in four women who has taken time off work because of menstruation cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms has lied about the true reason for their absence.
A survey of more than 2,400 women by period care company Yoppie found that 26% felt that period pain or PMS symptoms were not considered a legitimate reason to take time off sick, and 23% had lied about their true reason for taking time off work when experiencing them.
Asked why they had not told their employer, 18% said they felt self-conscious about taking time off for reasons including heavy flow or leaking; 13% were uncomfortable discussing the subject itself; 12% feared judgement from male colleagues; and 12% felt “inadequate” compared to female colleagues who appeared not to take time off due to menstruation.
Only 7% of women said the reason for lying about their time off was because of poor facilities in the workplace.
“Although periods are not the taboo topic that they used to be, it is clear that many women still don’t feel they can be open and honest about the severity of their PMS symptoms in the workplace,” said Yoppie founder, Daniella Peri.
“PMS is a very personal subject but this doesn’t mean we should live in fear of being judged for taking time off. In fact, stress can be an influential factor in exacerbating PMS symptoms and so having to worry about covering it up could inadvertently make it worse.”
Last year, MPs found that women suffering from endometriosis, which can involve intensely painful periods, were waiting years for a proper diagnosis. They found it took eight years on average to get a diagnosis, and called on the health sector to ensure this is lowered to four years by 2025 and one year by 2030.
A survey in 2019 also found one in six endometriosis sufferers was at risk of leaving the workplace because of the effects of their condition.