NEW YORK — Aches and pains for women while menstruating can make getting through the day feel like an impossible chore. Almost three in five women have taken off from work because of how bad their period cramps felt, according to new research.
A survey asked 2,000 American women about the level of support they receive while menstruating discovered over half of women who menstruate feel like no one takes their pain seriously. Nearly half the poll (44%) even agrees that their primary care doctor doesn’t even take period cramps seriously. As a result, 40 percent of women say they have not confided in their primary care doctor about their overall health concerns. Not only that, nearly a third of women (32%) claim they typically hear “take a painkiller and you’ll be fine.”
Other respondents say they hear plenty of other comments about their menstrual pain, like “the pain can’t be that bad” (29%) or “you’re being dramatic” (26%). Other participants claim people tell them they’d feel better if they just exercised while on their period, drank tea (25%) and went to sleep (21%).
Period cramps can vary from light to excruciating
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of INTIMINA, the survey finds that more than four in ten women (44%) don’t feel comfortable talking to anyone in their life about their period. One in ten (11%) don’t like talking about their time-of-the-month at all. Still, women are all for normalizing talking about menstruation (64%) and most (61%) even support the idea of getting time off from work every month.
Period symptoms like cramps and headaches have been so painful 42 percent have cried, had trouble sleeping (39%), or thrown up (25%). One in four have vomited from the discomfort while 39 percent report their symptoms prevent them from sleeping.
“It is a well-known fact that menstruation comes with different symptoms which can vary from woman to woman – some are experiencing light periods without feeling any of the typical side effects, and on the other hand, there are women who, because of their symptoms, might even seek medical help,” says Danela Zagar, INTIMINA Global Brand Manager, in a statement.
“Women are often too embarrassed to speak about the problems they are experiencing which leads us to the defeating statistics we can also see in this survey. This is why we want to help women by encouraging them to speak openly about everything they are going through, which can only bring positive changes – personally and professionally speaking.”
Half of women (52%) have had a bad experience asking or receiving advice or help from someone else, leaving 46 percent feeling lost or alone when a potential health concern arises. The lack of trust regarding others’ advice has led some women to try to figure out what’s going on with their bodies themselves.
Many women deal with more than just pain
Overall, three in five women prefer to deal with health-related concerns on their own instead of asking for advice or help. Although most women experience period symptoms, they aren’t able to recognize the hormones that trigger the pain they feel during menstruation. These include luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones (16%), estrogen (32%), and progesterone (19%). Twenty-four percent of women outright admit that they don’t know any of the hormones related to menstruation and 35 percent didn’t know that female bodies also produce testosterone.
Similarly, some women deal with potentially hormone-related health issues including weight gain (42%), fatigue (34%), and muscle aches (28%). Instead, they most commonly blame a poor sleep schedule (39%) or a lack of exercise (38%).
“Every month, women around the world go through something which can best be described as an emotional and physical roller coaster. The hormone cycle makes a big contribution to our mood swings – it has its ups and downs, twists and turns, but thankfully, the levels of our hormones follow a predictable pattern so women can easily educate and never be caught off guard,” Zagar adds.