U.K. Fertility Expert Advocates Paid Menstrual Leave

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Women who find dealing with their period when at work to be particularly unpleasant have a champion in U.K. doctor and former professor of obstetrics and gynecology Gedis Grudzinskas. He told the MailOnline that 'menstrual leave' would boost motivation and productivity in the workplace. But not everyone agrees.

Grudzinskas is considered a leading expert in fertility, according to the Guardian, and someone with "legendary bluntness." As he said to the MailOnline:

Some women feel really grotty when menstruating. Coming into work is a struggle and they feel lousy.

When you feel like that, it's harder to take pride in your work or perform as well. This is about employers being sensible and aware.


He suggests that women be given one to three days a month that don't count against sick leave. "[I]t is not a sickness, after all," he told the site.

The concept is uncommon in Europe or North America, where for "women beyond the age of high school gym class," a period "isn't considered much of an excuse for anything," as the Atlantic noted. However, the concept is established in a number of Asian countries. Japan has provided legal menstrual leave since 1947, where "women suffering from painful periods or whose job might exacerbate period pain are allowed seirikyuuka (literally 'physiological leave')."

Taiwan, Indonesia, and South Korea have more recently granted menstrual leave, largely under the argument that if women don't rest during their periods, they could have problems in childbirth. However, the practice can be controversial even there. In Indonesia, women are sometimes harassed into not taking leave, while in South Korea, some men call it reverse discrimination.

Up to half of all women experience a painful period at some point during their lifetime, CBSNews.com reported the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as saying.

Some women are critical of the practice, though for different reasons. As CBSNews reported, professor and researcher Alice J. Dan of the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago has extensively researched menstrual leave laws and wrote of them in a research paper: "It is used by employees as an argument against providing equal positions for female workers, at the same time that its meager benefits pacify women and keep them from fighting for more substantial benefits like higher wages and better work conditions."

Or, as Claire Cohen wrote in the Telegraph, the suggestion of Grudzinskas "would only send us further back into the dark ages" because it treats periods as "something that makes women seem vulnerable, tainted, or unable to perform professionally," rather than as a fact of life that most women have successfully dealt with for millennia.

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