PERIODS can be very inconvenient, especially for women who experience severe cramps and other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, back pain, fatigue and headaches. This inconvenience is increased for those who have heavy flows and unpredictable cycles, as there is also the lingering fear of having an embarrassing little accident while on the job.
But despite having to deal with this inconvenience for roughly a quarter of the time, women have, for centuries, still been showing up and getting the job done. With the help of modern medicine, some have even found ways to avoid their periods and its symptoms altogether.
Below a few women with physically taxing jobs share how they manage their menses.
SN, police officer:
I take the pill. I've been on it since I started training, and I just decided that I won't be coming off it until I really want to have another baby. Sometimes it makes me a little sick, but it makes my periods really light and manageable, and that works for me. A few months ago I tried to come off it and I had to take two sick days to stay home when my period started on its own. I'd just rather not deal with that every month.
I just let it be. I've never really had any issues with my cycle. It comes like clockwork every month, lasts about four days, then goes away again. Mild cramps, but nothing I can't manage. I just wear tampons on day one and two sometimes, but it has never been an issue for me. I've never had a kind of emergency at work where my period put me at any disadvantage.
I've been on the injection since I had my baby a year ago and I like how it stops my period from coming. It wasn't very bad or anything, but it was a bit annoying because I basically work in a swimsuit most of the day. I always feel insecure in pads, and tampons just don't sit right with me.
JL, fitness coach:
One of the advantages of regular exercise, at least for me, is lighter, less painful periods. Most female athletes will tell you that they sometimes don't have a period at all. So I don't worry too much about it. I use tampons with liners, or just liners alone, at that time of the month. I also make sure I eat right and avoid the excess carbs at that time of the month so it doesn't 'cramp' my style. If I start to feel any discomfort I know I am not training hard enough.
I take regular over-the-counter medication for the pain, along with herbal teas. If it's really bad I just stay in for a day or two and get someone to help if I'm planting or pulling a crop. Sometimes I use the pills to delay my cycle if it is going to come at a really inconvenient time.
KD, security guard:
Where I am located, I have to be on my feet for most of the day everyday. My back is always hurting, but it hurts even more right before my period. I try to swap duties with another guard who gets to sit more during those times, or just take a day or two to rest. Someone suggested going on the injection to stop it, but I don't really trust those things.