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Women Dish on the Perils of the Period

More than half of the women polled report not feeling comfortable during their periods, new research suggests.
Photo: Shutterstock

According to a recent survey of 2,000 women, 61 percent of those who’ve experienced menstruation said the discomfort disrupts their life.

Fifty-one percent have abstained from sexual intercourse during their period, 45 percent have put off physical exercise, and 41 percent have avoided socializing.

Gen Z respondents were more likely than millennials to say their period has prevented them from going to work (50 percent versus 39 percent), engaging in their hobbies (48 percent versus 38 percent), participating in physical exercise (68 percent versus 44 percent), and doing household chores (53 percent vs. 41 percent).

Uncomfortable periods have also forced respondents to cancel or skip important events, including a wedding ceremony, a boating trip, an exam, and a best friend’s birthday party.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Cora, the survey found that 62 percent have taken time off work during their period, for an average of five days a year.

Forty-six percent did so because they were worried they might leak at work, and 63 percent didn’t want people to see their menstrual products.

Nine in 10 have even lied to their boss about why they took time off during their period, because they’ve felt guilty for doing so.

Leading up to and during their period, respondents typically experience cramps, headaches, and moodiness (36 percent each).

Three-fourths also noted that worrying about leaks makes it difficult to sleep at night.

However, more than half admitted feeling guilty complaining or feeling like they have to suck it up because other people also deal with these symptoms.

People were found to be more comfortable talking with their doctor about their period-induced irritability (43 percent), rather than their work colleagues (34 percent) or even their parents (23 percent).

Gen Z was more likely to talk to others about their discomfort than millennials, discussing their irritability with friends (48 percent versus 39 percent) and romantic partners (60 percent versus 43 percent).

Three-fifths turn to social media for information on their menstrual cycle, with Facebook (49 percent), Instagram (45 percent), and Twitter (42 percent) ranking among the most popular platforms.

Some also shared that they no longer believe in certain menstruation myths, such as the idea that being sexually active during your period is unhealthy (37 percent) and that their period should last exactly one week each month (35 percent).

Yet half feel there’s still a stigma around the topic of menstruation and period symptoms. That may be why 65 percent prefer to suffer in silence.    

“While many people are better informed about the menstrual cycle, discussing it largely remains taboo,” says Dana Cohen, chief marketing officer at Cora. “The fact that other people go about daily life as usual during their period makes 44 percent of those polled feel guilty to talk about their own period symptoms, and worried others will think they’re weak for discussing their discomfort.”

When asked what makes them feel more comfortable during their period, comfort food (44 percent) and pain killers (42 percent) topped the list of must-haves. “Seven in 10 respondents said they feel confident when they’re comfortable, suggesting the stigma and discomfort around their period may be a barrier to confidence,” says Cohen. “Choosing period products that are comfortable, effective, and made with clean ingredients can give people peace of mind, allowing them to focus more on getting things done and enjoying their lives.”

About The Author
julieKeller_author-1

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures, ForbesTraveler.com, E! Online, Gayot.com, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.