It’s Monday morning, you pull your chair up to your desk ready to tackle a pile of emails that have accumulated over the weekend and boom: Aunt Flo visits a day early! You search your desk drawers, dig through your purse or Slack a few gal colleagues asking if they have a tampon. Getting our period is difficult for us no matter what. Physically it puts a toll on our bodies with fatigue, hormone fluctuation, and things like anxiety and depression. It makes it a difficult time of the month. We’re digging in and talking about managing your period at work!
What happens to your body during your period?
The menstrual phase is the first stage of the menstrual cycle. It’s also when you get your period. This phase starts when an egg isn’t fertilized. Because pregnancy hasn’t taken place, levels of the hormone progesterone drop.
The thickened lining of your uterus, which would support a pregnancy, is no longer needed, so it sheds through your vagina. During your period, you release a combination of blood, mucus, and tissue from your uterus.
Due to the fluctuation of hormones, many women say they experience these symptoms:
- tender breasts
- mood swings
- lower back pain
On average, women are in the menstrual phase of their cycle for 3 to 7 days. If you have questions regarding your period or are trying to regulate it, we recommend Period Repair Manual! Lara Briden breaks down every little (and big) thing that affects us, our periods, and our hormones.
Why do I get emotional during my period?
Thank PMS! With the rollercoaster hormones come hard-to-handle moods, and it’s completely normal. They can be difficult during working hours, especially when all you want to do is curl up at home and binge Netflix! Tracking your period and logging symptoms can really help you know what to expect during the days of menstruation so you can plan accordingly and help you manage your period at work. Using some easy remedies to balance you out can help too!
Normal PMS symptoms are:
- Poor concentration
- Social withdrawal
- Crying spells
Have you been sitting at your desk feeling overwhelmed or about to burst into tears? None of this means you’re inadequate or a poor fit for your job! You’re feeling everything that’s happening in your body and it’s important to give yourself grace during this time.
How do I handle my period at work?
Plan ahead. Getting caught short in the office is never fun (unless your employer provides free period care in the restrooms)! If you’re without a tampon or pad, it can really disrupt your day and make you lose focus from your work. Have you thought about using a menstrual cup? A menstrual cup is a small flexible cup made of medical-grade silicone. It fits in the vaginal canal and collects menstrual blood (leak free!) for up to 12 hours!
Be comfortable. Nothing is worse than being stuck in a desk chair wearing something snug or uncomfortable. Especially if you are prone to bloating on your cycle, wearing loose fitting clothing can help get your mind off of that and on to your work. Your midsection isn’t the only place that bloats! Are you constantly on your feet at work? Think about comfortable shoes too.
Cope with the cramping. Dehydration can make cramping even worse, so making sure you’re drinking plenty of water and electrolyte drinks is key. Maybe slow up on the caffeine-laden things like coffee or sodas. Another idea would be to keep a heating pad handy. If you’re sitting at a desk most of your shift, you could easily have one around your back or abdomen!
Additional supplements. On top of your daily multi-vitamin, taking vitamin B can help with energy when you’re feeling fatigued. Also, magnesium helps tremendously with cramping if you suffer the first few days of your period. Nuts are high in magnesium as well as dark chocolate. Who would argue with chocolate during their period!? #nobrainer
Notice what you’re eating. What did you pack for lunch? While our cravings will most likely have us reaching for something salty, sweet or greasy (comfort food, right?) the best things to have during our period are the exact opposite. Think light! Fruits, leafy greens and anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric and ginger. For proteins, think chicken, fish and tofu.
Exercise. Keep a pair of sneakers under your desk and take a walk around the block on your lunch break! The fresh air and exercise are suggested to be helpful during our periods and can decrease PMS symptoms. If you struggle with your mental health during your period, exercising causes your body to release chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins in your brain that make you feel happy. Not only is your brain dumping out feel-good chemicals, but exercise also helps your brain get rid of chemicals that make you feel stressed and anxious!
Can you take time off of work during your period?
This is a tricky one. The U.S. currently doesn’t acknowledge menstruating women in the workplace. If you have sick days or personal days accumulated, taking one during the worst part of your period wouldn’t be considered poor work performance or cause attendance issues. There is a long history of women (and employers) coping with their periods while still being professional. If you have really hard periods, our advice to you is to talk to your doctor, use your best judgment, and listen to your body. Again, tracking your period can be extremely helpful in making you feel equipped when that time of the month rolls around including managing your period at work.
Many women around the world run into period problems. Some greater than others. A woman who is facing cultural shame would likely miss work during her cycle. A schoolgirl in Kenya will miss up to six weeks of school due to menstruation and the lack of period care available to her.
Here at Pixie Cup, we believe in period freedom for all women. It is our mission! We do this through our Buy One, Give One program. Every time a Pixie Cup is purchased, we give one to a woman in need. You’re saying ‘YES’ to period freedom for yourself, and at the same time, you’re saying ‘YES’ to changing someone else’s life too.
Have you been thinking about switching from pads and tampons to something more sustainable? Or more comfortable? If you’re hesitating, we recently chatted about all the menstrual cup fears and questions! Check out our store for a variety of menstrual cups and to figure out what cup is the best choice for you!