Few things are worse than waking up on a jam-packed workday and realizing your flow has begun. Unfortunately, periods can take a massive toll on productivity. Not only do you have to deal with symptoms like headaches and cramps, but you may also worry about social stigmas around periods in the workplace.
Between sneaking tampons up your sleeve and brushing off banter from unknowing coworkers, dealing with your menstrual cycle while at work is challenging and uncomfortable. When managing your period at work becomes its own full-time job, it’s time to make a battle plan for the inevitable every-28-days visitor.
Instead of guessing each month when your period will finally arrive, keep tabs on your cycle and symptoms each month. By tracking your period on a calendar or an app, you’ll start to notice your body’s natural ebbs and flows and better understand when something is off.
Maybe you have a super heavy flow on the first day, but it tends to lighten up by the third. Or, your cramps always happen at the beginning but are replaced with headaches by day four. By tracking symptoms, you can pinpoint the times where your menstrual cycle hormones are high. Then you’ll be better prepared to deal with symptoms as they come or prevent them before they hit.
Pack a period kit
Starting your monthly flow at work and realizing you haven’t packed tampons is stressful. However, you can dodge panicked scrambling by compiling a period kit for your bag or desk, ensuring you’ll never be without the necessities. Tampons, pads, liners, ibuprofen, and chocolate are a must. After all, it’s better to over prepare than under prepare. Plus, you never know when your coworker might need a little something from your period kit too.
Use the right products
One-size-fits-all does not apply to period products. Between super absorbent mega-pads to spotting liners to your typical tampon, there’s a product for every flow. Grab a super tampon on heavy days, opt for a regular on lighter days, or double-up with a panty liner if you’re in for a long day at work. If you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly option, consider a menstrual cup that will last you all day. Just make sure you have a private bathroom to rinse if your flow is heavy.
Get moving and then relax
Although you may feel like curling up and napping for hours at a time to satiate painful cramping, getting your body moving is the key to easing uterine aches. Gentle yoga poses can help stretch your abdomen and release pressure from your cramps, while running can distract you and release endorphins, which block pain receptors.
While moving is essential to relieving your cramps, resting is also vital for those looking to evade strenuous activity. Try taking ibuprofen and applying a hot pad to your lower abdomen. The heat will help soften the sharp pains of your menstrual cramps, and the ibuprofen will help relieve the deep, dull cramps as well.
Advocate for a more period-friendly workplace
Although it may be intimidating, advocating for a more period-friendly workplace will benefit you and other period-havers in the office. Luckily, forward-thinking companies have begun offering free sanitary products for employees, along with menstrual leave for those unable to work with extreme symptoms. After all, your intrauterine wall is tearing itself out of your body, and you deserve a little me-time.
While you may not be able to implement changes to your workplace single handedly or completely rid yourself of backhanded comments, you can still be the go-to cubicle when one of your fellow menstruating employees needs a little help.
Managing your period at work can be difficult, and when painful symptoms get in the way, your productivity can take a nose-dive. While you can’t stop your period from happening, you can stop it from holding you back by tracking your period, planning ahead, and advocating for yourself.