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Here's How Period Pain Hurts Your Career

Posted on January 18, 2024

Women with fibroids know that period pain is a big deal. (Their period pain is referred to as secondary dysmenorrhoea, because it's caused by an underlying condition and tends to get worse with time. Yet other women have primary dysmeorrhea, or unexplained period pain, and that tends to arrive within a few months of the onset of menstruation. Either way, the monthly discomfort is extremely disruptive.)

And yet...sometimes, women don't speak up about this or other intimate symptoms of fibroids, including pelvic pain, frequent urination and more. In fact, according to Duke Health's Ingrid Harm-Ernandes, 1 in 4 American women suffer from some kind of pelvic floor problem. And, despite that large number, she notes, "Everybody feels like they are alone so they don't step forward and say 'I have this symptom, I have this problem, and can I get help for it?'"

Unfortunately, this often leads to delayed diagnoses of conditions such as fibroids. But did you know that it could also harm women in other arenas of their lives, by being a pain on the job, too? It's true: according to one Dutch study, researchers found that women lose almost nine productive work and school days each year because of painful periods!

Periods Take Women off the Job

For the study, published in the BMJ, researchers followed over 32,000 women ages 15-45. They watched how often the women missed work or school, and how often they showed up in pain, losing productivity. What they found was upsetting: 13.8 percent of the women reported missing work during their periods. Another 3.4 percent reported taking time off from school or work almost every time they had their periods. And even when they showed up, 80.7% of women reported being unproductive on the job when dealing with their periods. In all, period pain takes a major toll on women in the school and workforce.

Here in the United States, there's often no room for women to recover from period pain at home. But around the world, governments are starting to help them deal with this fibroid symptom without getting hurt on the job. In fact, in Spain, the federal cabinet is considering a bill that would give women three days of menstrual leave each month. And, in certain cases, women could seek an additional two days if their period pain is intense. The government of Malta is also considering offering workers menstrual leave, inspired by the story of one woman who lost her job after having to miss work during a particularly painful period. And countries like Japan, Taiwan and Zimbabwe already offer women some form of menstrual leave options.

That's something we'd love to see stateside. But, until then, we'll have to try and root out causes of period pain, instead.

Understanding Period Pain

Period pain is awful. But some women seem to be completely knocked out of their lives during their cycles, while others tolerate menstruation fairly well. What's the deal? Sometimes the answer is outside conditions that make matters worse. (As you'll see in a minute) But other times, the reason is less clear. And that's a mystery a new Australian study, called the LongSTEPPP project, hopes to solve.

Conducted by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, researchers will follow 3000 women who've been treated for period pain. Their focus is on young women in their teenage years. The hope? To understand the causes of period pain and offer early intervention before women start missing work and turning their lives upside down. Hopefully, this study will uncover previously unknown causes of period pain. But there's one common cause we're all too familiar with...fibroids!

Fibroids Mess with your Period...and so much more

Many of the women in this study were simply dealing with typical menstrual cramps. Now, imagine if the women in the study were all dealing with fibroids, which can make your period longer, heavier and more painful. We're guessing those absent and unproductive days would only increase!l

Of course, heavy, painful periods aren't the only way fibroids can hurt your body. Studies show that about 30% of women with fibroids also experience painful sex, back pain, pelvic pain or other discomforts. Like your period pain, these fibroid symptoms could show up intermittently. Or, for some women, fibroid pain could be chronic. And, either way, it can interfere with your lifestyle, making you skip workouts, work days or more.

So, that's the bad news...but here's the good. Even if you have fibroids, painful periods don't have to be your forever problem. There are non-invasive treatment options that can alleviate your symptoms without surgery or hospital stays. Want to learn more? Click here to request an appointmentwith our Houston-area fibroid specialists to learn if you are a good candidate for Uterine Fibroid Embolization.

Sources: https://bmjopen.bmj.com

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