Let’s start off with a simple question: Why pay attention to periods at all?

To begin with, the menstrual cycle is part of most women’s life. The reason why you are alive is because of periods.

Around half of the female population, this are approx. 26% of the global population, are of reproductive age [1]. On average a woman menstruates for about 7 years during her lifetime, most women menstruate each month for about 2 to 7 days.

Addition to the monthly bleeding, 90% of women who menstruate say they experience various symptoms [2]. Up to 60% of all women suffer from menstrual cramps, and a „smaller amount“, meaning up to 20% of women suffer from menstrual cramping severe enough to interfere with daily activities [3].

According to another study on the frequency of dysmenorrhea (= painful periods) in 2012:

  • menstrual pain was reported by 84.1% of women,
  • with 43.1% reporting that pain occurred during every period,
  • and 41% reporting that pain occurred during some periods [4].

The same study found that 32 to 40% of women experience pain so severe that they have to miss work or school.

And I would assume that most of them do it secretly, as we grew up in a generation of women who were taught to hide their periods.

Menstrual and reproductive health are tremendously under-researched. And therefore menstrual pain and reproductive illnesses (like e.g. endometriosis) are not well-understood by practitioners, the scientific community and women themselves.

At this point we haven’t even touched topics like equal access to menstrual products, chemical free and sustainable options, poor menstrual hygiene, exclusion from education system for girls … This is not a woman’s issue. This is OUR issue.

There needs to be more funding, more research, more open public discourse and most importantly: more effective action .

What does this have to do with our workplace?

„You need to pay extra consideration to how to talk, how to dress and how to ask for a raise … and you still may receive a biased performance review. Considering that the mere fact of having a woman’s name can be enough to hold you back from a promotion, it’s easy to imagine how you might not want to remind your co-workers about your painful bleeding vagina.“

– The Guardian [5]

For the last 3 years I organize seminars for women to understand their cyclic nature and how they can work in alignment with their menstrual cycle – and not against it.

Women function very differently than men. And this influences our focus, productivity, well-being, self-confidence, emotions, intuition and communication skills.

Instead of trying to impose a traditional linear structure – as our working and lifestyle culture unfortunately often does – women can be empowered to harness the power of their cycleIf you understand how to work actively with the different phases of your cycle, you will unleash your true power and activate your intuitive intelligence naturally.

Last year I was asked to participate in a documentary about periods in Germany. The plan was that one on my seminars was filmed. The big challenge was to find women who were okay with showing their faces in public. One of the women explicitly stated that she can’t do that because…

… she is worried about what her male colleagues would think and doesn’t want to risk any negative consequences in her career.

It is not only the physical implications of the menstrual cycle that we need to take into account. It is also about our culture and societal stigma around menstruation.

Now, let’s talk about stress.

Stress is a major killer for physical and mental health, creativity, innovation and employee work engagement and the list goes on.

 

It leads to increased inflammation, slows down of metabolism, adrenal fatigue, sleeping problems, memory loss, … and more. This is hopefully not a surprise for you. Anyone who ever experienced stress knows it is not a comfortable place to stay.

For women  due to our current frame of reality  periods can be also an additional source for stress.

I am taking about physical, mental and emotional stress. Stress that comes every month.

Fear of being perceived as weak, labeled as a crazy „pms-ing“ hag, being too emotional, not being taken seriously – or worry of not being good enough for a leadership position.

Although the female body naturally signals you to slow down, re-center and cleanse once a month (women, please think of your cycle as your natural built-in coaching system), we do the opposite.

We hide it. We are often disgusted by this natural process and we put pressure on ourselves to perform even more. And therefore completely ignore and neglect our bodies essential needs.

To conclude:

  • Menstruation is stigmatized all over the world. This is a global challenge that needs to be addressed with the needed care, ownership and action. As human beings we spend a large percentage of our time in a working environment. And we need to take responsibility to create a safe, empowering and well-being promoting workplace for everyone. Women are part of everyone. And periods are a large part of women’s life cycle. Period.
  • The menstrual cycle can be a huge challenge for women on many levels: dealing with pain, hormonal changes, overflowing emotions, additional stress and the pressure to hide your true nature. If the cycle is not correctly understood and harnessed, it can influence your health, well-being, focus, productivity, self-confidence, emotions, intuition and communication skills.
  • Women are only part of the official workforce for a relatively short period of time. Our working infrastructure is not always perfectly designed for a female lifestyle (menstrual cycle, menopause, pregnancy, parenting, …). But we can start taking the lead in becoming a human-centric workplace and foster an empowering approach to female health at the workplace.

Or simply put: If you have a female boss, co-worker, friend, a mother or a daughter then the female cycle is your issue too, my friend.

 

 

Love, Alisa

PS: ….psst! Interested in female wellbeing & leadership programs that focus on the integration of the female life cycle, cultivation of unshakeable confidence and building empowerment? Then drop me a line at info@alisaeresina.com 

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[1] http://menstrualhygieneday.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Menstrual-hygiene-matters-low-resolution.pdf

[2] WomensHealth.gov. (2018). Menstrual cycle. womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle

[3] Rita Champaneria & Khalid Khan (2012) Dysmenorrhea. Am Fam Physician. 85(4):386-387. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2012/0215/p386.html

[4] Grandi G, et al. (2012). Prevalence of menstrual pain in young women: What is dysmenorrhea? DOI: 10.2147/JPR.S30602

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