Spain recently proposed reform bills by the cabinet that grant paid menstrual leave for those who suffer severe period pains.
This legislation awaits final approval from Spain’s parliament, but if passed will entitle people who suffer severe period pains to three days off work during menstruation each month with pay, which the government will shoulder instead of employers.
Under this bill, a diagnosis of severe menstrual pain, also known as primary dysmenorrhea (PD), or another temporary medical incapacity should be approved by a doctor to be considered for the leave. Other serious symptoms accompanying PD include bad headaches, nausea, diarrhea, and fever.
Countries like Japan, South Korea, Zambia, and Indonesia already offer a similar menstrual leave policy, but this is a first among European countries.
Canada and the United States should take a look at Spain’s progressivity, learn more about it, and adopt a similar policy.
Menstruation should not be taboo. It is a natural biological cycle that many people undergo monthly, and we should talk about it as the natural biological cycle it is and not some gross or scary topic to avoid.
The pain people feel during periods is definitely far from the usual illness experienced from the flu or cold. It’s often a combination of pulsing or lingering cramps, nausea, fatigue, back pain, mental stress, hormone imbalances, and others, depending on the person.
Growing up surrounded by female family members and friends widened my perspective about our experiences. I realized that other women have it worse than me. I’ve had my fair share of period pains accompanied by light-headedness during my work shift, in school, or even in transit which can be a probable cause of an unexpected injury.
However, it is an entirely different scenario when you help other people experiencing periods. Sometimes it comes in the form of letting them borrow bottoms to wear or something to cover up stains. Other ways to help are by rushing them to a clinic or first-aid because they look pale and even holding their hand for physical support and balance.
It’s unacceptable and inconsiderate to hear someone say “deal with it” or “women are being drama queens” when situations like these happen to people who have periods.
These folks need to go to work every day despite carrying immense physical pain, combined with a mental state of tug-of-war between staying at home with no pay or keep working to stay financially stable.
This policy raises awareness of what people who menstruate endure during their periods and its stigma.
It’s been a long time coming to correct the stigmatization of menstruation and normalize it. It would be a great step forward to see a western government acknowledging and alleviating some of the physical and mental stress periods induced by providing an option to take a leave if someone is not physically able to attend work.