Dealing with a period at work can be a struggle, but these tips could help make it a smoother experience
Menstruation has long been a taboo topic, especially in the workplace – anyone who has had their period at work will likely be familiar with the period product up-the-sleeve trick! We have got a long way to go to break down the stigma around menstrual health in the workplace, but we are seeing great steps in the right direction. Free workplace period products for employees, the introduction of menstrual leave in some countries, and menopause policies, are all really exciting prospects.
Whatever your menstrual health experience, and wherever you are in your menstrual lifespan, there are a lot of ways you can support yourself to manage your menstrual wellbeing in the workplace.
Understand the menstrual cycle
This piece of advice comes with no blame or shame, as so many of us have been massively let down by our menstrual health education. But that can change. There are so many incredible resources, activists, and coaches out there to support your journey to menstrual wellbeing.
Some of my personal favourites include Maisie Hill, who has a great podcast and two incredible books. Unfabled is a wellness shop based around menstrual wellbeing – everything you’ve always wanted to try in one place. The Lowdown is a fantastic resource for all things contraception and cycle information. And, finally, Lara Briden’s Period Repair Manual has become my cycle bible, and I recommend it to everyone who has a cycle.
Know your own cycle
Menstrual cycle awareness is more than fertility, it’s an act of self-care. If you don’t track your cycle already, start today. It can be overwhelming to begin with, but starting small, and noting your cycle day and a few words about how you’re feeling, is enough. As the process goes on, you will notice patterns within your cycle. You’ll get to know what’s normal for you, and how you respond to each of the different cycle stages.
Know what you need
Within menstrual wellbeing coaching, we talk about the 1% rule: how can you get 1% of what you need to thrive? You might be thinking that 1% is a really small amount, but keep adding to your 1%, and it will quickly grow. Understanding your needs around your menstrual wellbeing is really key, especially if you are dealing with menstrual health challenges.
This can be a helpful process to go through in all areas of life, but focusing specifically on the workplace, how can you get that 1%? It could be as simple as having a spare set of clothes and a drawer full of period products. Who around you can support you in this? Who are your trusted people? Reach out to them first.
Control what you can
Sadly, the way we work doesn’t necessarily support our cycles, we aren’t all able to choose where and how we work. But another step to managing our menstrual wellbeing at work is controlling what we can control.
Options to help you here could be having a different-sized work uniform to keep you comfortable as your body changes throughout your cycle. Blocking out specific days in your diary to ensure no meetings or presentations get booked in, as you know they won’t be your most confident or productive days. Working from home on the days you feel more sensitive, where possible. Controlling your ‘controllables’ will have a huge impact.
Now you’re ready to go and build your toolkit, however that looks for you, it could be your own ‘just-in-case’ box. It could be a new hybrid working structure, it could be whatever you need it to be! But some time spent considering your menstrual health needs will not be time wasted.