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Feminism: chat

Period Pains need to be a legitimate reason for absence in schools

70 replies

3beesinmybonnet · 29/09/2021 15:20

A father of 3 daughters has started a petition to make period pain a legitimate reason for absence from school, after he was told his daughter's absence for period pains would be marked as unauthorised.
I'm the wrong side of 60, I have no daughters or granddaughters, so I know very little of what goes on in schools nowadays other than what I learn from Mumsnet, but I well remember the pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea I suffered every month along with the humiliation resulting from heavy blood loss from age 11 to late teens when I was put on the pill, which sorted it out. Before that it was just paracetamol, and occasionally I was sent to lie down with a hot water bottle. I think I probably had the odd day off with it (my mother was sympathetic having suffered the same herself) but it was generally seen as just part of being a woman and you should just get on with it. It seems not much has changed.
I've started this thread here because it took me a while to find the petitions board, you have to actively search for it, and its obvious many threads on there never get seen.

www.change.org/p/educationgovuk-period-pains-dysmenorrhea-need-to-be-a-legitimate-reason-for-absence-in-schools

OP posts:
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NapoleonOzmolysis · 29/09/2021 15:25

My DD's GP stated that there is no reason for her to be in so much pain she misses school and has been willing to prescribe what it takes to make sure she isn't in pain, isn't bleeding heavily and can be in school comfortably.

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backoffice · 29/09/2021 15:27

This is more a schools issue surely? One of mine vomits with her period so no one wants her around. But yes, over time solutions need to be looked at. It’s a slightly odd thing for a father to do. Why not talk to the school and the GP first?!

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Hoppinggreen · 29/09/2021 15:30

@NapoleonOzmolysis

My DD's GP stated that there is no reason for her to be in so much pain she misses school and has been willing to prescribe what it takes to make sure she isn't in pain, isn't bleeding heavily and can be in school comfortably.

DDs GP has suggested several things that have made very little difference.
We have given up on them and have an appointment booked with a Private Gynae next week.
Unless you really understand how debilitating periods can be then it’s hard to understand but (luckily?) I also threw up and/or passed out in pain that couldn’t be controlled too so I know what she’s going through.
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Wbeezer · 29/09/2021 15:37

I used to be allowed to go home as i tended to vomit and feel very wobbly. My Dad was a GP and used to have a stash of prescription strength codeine which i was allowed, the relief of crawling into bed after walking home 1.5 miles stopping to be sick.
Of course it should be an authorised absence!

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NumberTheory · 29/09/2021 15:46

I tend to think if period symptoms are debilitating enough to warrant time off school then there should be gp involvement. I don't really agree that girls should routinely miss school for their periods but don't think it warrants a trip to the gp.

That would lead to girls missing out on education and increase inequality.

I think it's more concerning that girls (and women) frequently get little help from their gp.

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Bolognesedoc · 29/09/2021 15:49

I don't really understand this. If he had said stomachache or diarrhoea or dizziness would those have been valid reasons? Is it the fact that they are caused by periods the problem or the symptoms thenselves?

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Dollywilde · 29/09/2021 15:56

It absolutely should be authorised leave.

As an aside, just because the pill is available and can help does not mean that any girl with painful periods who doesn't take the pill should be penalised. After seeing some of the women I know realise how much the pill has affected them after they come off it, I'm not entirely comfortable with young girls being pushed into the pill if it's not what they want, and I worry that we could wind up in a situation where girls who decline the pill have their absences marked as unauthorised as they're unwilling to take something that 'could help'.

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Palavah · 29/09/2021 16:01

If you're vomiting because of your period then you say you're absent because youre vomiting. Ditto fainting, or severe abdominal pain, or diarrhoea etc.

I wouldn't want any girl to have to miss school because she has standard menstrual cramps.

I agree that in the main periods are not supposed to be so debilitating so always worth an investigation and experimenting with diet to reduce menstrual side-effects.

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Bolognesedoc · 29/09/2021 16:03

If you're vomiting because of your period then you say you're absent because youre vomiting. Ditto fainting, or severe abdominal pain, or diarrhoea etc.

Agreed. I used to be incapable of doing anything on the first day of my period. It wouldn't have helped anyone to have me at school vomiting.

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Hoppinggreen · 29/09/2021 16:08

@Palavah

If you're vomiting because of your period then you say you're absent because youre vomiting. Ditto fainting, or severe abdominal pain, or diarrhoea etc.

I wouldn't want any girl to have to miss school because she has standard menstrual cramps.

I agree that in the main periods are not supposed to be so debilitating so always worth an investigation and experimenting with diet to reduce menstrual side-effects.

I wonder how many painful conditions involving men’s reproductive systems can be helped by a change in diet?
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LobsterNapkin · 29/09/2021 16:21

Some people have apparently had good luck with improving menstrual cramps with diet. Seems worth trying to me, especially if it avoids meds which always have side effects.

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DukeofEarlGrey · 29/09/2021 16:26

@Dollywilde

It absolutely should be authorised leave.

As an aside, just because the pill is available and can help does not mean that any girl with painful periods who doesn't take the pill should be penalised. After seeing some of the women I know realise how much the pill has affected them after they come off it, I'm not entirely comfortable with young girls being pushed into the pill if it's not what they want, and I worry that we could wind up in a situation where girls who decline the pill have their absences marked as unauthorised as they're unwilling to take something that 'could help'.

Exactly this. Many women and girls experience debilitating period pains and they should a) be taken seriously by doctors AND schools, and b) still be taken seriously if a girl doesn’t want to take long-term medication with other health risks involved.

I suffered awful period pains for years from age 13 and was made to feel ridiculous by my school. Luckily my mum and my GP took me seriously bit even so the only medication that helped was a form of the Pill with a very high oestrogen dosage that I was then on for years. I was pretty angry as an adult when I finally came off it and learned what the potential risks and actual impacts were that I hadn’t been made fully aware of as a child. In an ideal world I would have been allowed to stay in bed for one day a month to rest and sleep the pain off without fear of reprimand. Pain relief would still have been needed but the long-term drugs would at least hve felt like a choice that way.
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00100001 · 29/09/2021 16:26

Why can't it be recorded as sickness absence?

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Hoppinggreen · 29/09/2021 16:36

@LobsterNapkin

Some people have apparently had good luck with improving menstrual cramps with diet. Seems worth trying to me, especially if it avoids meds which always have side effects.

A change of diet may help mild period cramps but passing out on the bathroom floor is probably beyond a change of diet.
A hot bath, paracetamol, hot water bottle and exercise are also bloody useless in those circumstances
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3beesinmybonnet · 29/09/2021 17:28

TBH I'm appalled that 50 YEARS after I started my periods attitudes don't seem to have changed. It seems girls are still just expected to get on with it, and science still hasn't found a more effective solution than pumping girls full of hormones just as they're going through puberty. Missing school obviously has all sorts of implications for their future and it shouldn't be necessary, but when it is they shouldn't be penalised for it as well.
Honestly I think if every man had to have periods just for one year they'd find a safe solution in no time but meh women and girls not a priority.

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Nomoreusernames1244 · 29/09/2021 17:33

If periods are that debilitating it should be the medical profession we are petitioning to get of their arses and find ways to fix it rather than writing it off as part of being female.

Women taking 2-3 days off every month is going to severely impact learning, and later on effectiveness at work and the gender pay gap will grow as employers refuse to promote those who need time off regularly.

It is the medical profession who can change this, not teachers or employers

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Muttly · 29/09/2021 17:39

My teachers often sent me home after noticing how pale and ill I got and on my first day of period. Mostly I didn’t even mention it so I must have looked like death for a teacher to spot it from the top of a class. However by a complete chance I noticed exercise really, really helped and that was the end of my issues. I definitely think there are many circumstances where period since needs to be taken ore seriously.

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3beesinmybonnet · 29/09/2021 18:42

@Muttly
Exercise was often recommended when I was young. On the school outdoor pursuits course doing physical activities all day I was amazed that there was no pain apart from when I first woke up.
Sadly I found back at school no amount of exercise could counteract being sat at a desk 5 days a week.
(Sorry if this sounds snarky it's not meant that way. Glad it worked for someone.)

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Muttly · 29/09/2021 18:48

I definitely understand where you are coming from OP. I was never dismissed when having bad period pain, as I said others picked up and responded really well (possibly better than I did) to the problem. Being dismissed would just add insult to injury. Exercise was never actually suggested to me I fell into realising it really helped me personally.

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EgonSpengler2020 · 29/09/2021 19:17

@Palavah

If you're vomiting because of your period then you say you're absent because youre vomiting. Ditto fainting, or severe abdominal pain, or diarrhoea etc.

I wouldn't want any girl to have to miss school because she has standard menstrual cramps.

I agree that in the main periods are not supposed to be so debilitating so always worth an investigation and experimenting with diet to reduce menstrual side-effects.

You clearly don't suffer from endometriosis.

Why should I have to say my absences (from work rather than school) is due to anything other than what it is, gynecological problems, we even have a sickness absence condition code on our timesheet for it. I don't need to pass it off as generalised severe abdo pain, or fainting or diarrhoea, and nor should a school girl.

And as for "experimenting with diet", you need to realise how condescending you sound, some women and girls suffer debilitating medical conditions related to their menstrual cycles across their entire reproductive lifespan.
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FriedTomatoe · 29/09/2021 19:43

I agree with the petition up to a point. It feels right that it should be treated as sickness for the first couple of years but as someone previously said, if a girl was to take a day off every month with period sickness it would affect their education. There's also a point where most teenagers get used to it more and if they don't they should be trying to figure out why. Periods shouldn't be making anyone pass out and if it does, it's a sign of an underlying issue like endometriosis. I have endo which was undiagnosed until after I had my kids. I remember going to my GP about a recurrent bladder infection and it turned out I had it growing through the wall of my uterus and into my bladder- it had been the reason for my agonising periods for years but because I'm not overweight I was always brushed off. There were 2 options for me - total hysterectomy or the pill.

In a nutshell - yes, exercise and diet do help. They've helped me immensely BUT you have to be at the point where you don't feel like your going to die if you stand up and where you can actually eat something.

The real solution is more awareness by GPs and better solutions - the contraceptive pill isn't a solution for a young teenager.

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megletthesecond · 29/09/2021 19:46

I agree. For me, the first day of cramps and diarrhoea was always miserable. Not being able to just go to the toilet in school didn't help.

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BashfulClam · 29/09/2021 21:29

I remember that pain, it was given pills but as I threw up they weren’t any use. Eventually the doctor reluctantly gave me the pill when I was coming up to my exams and couldn’t miss school. The pill was amazing, I had minimal pains and could delay my period when required.

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cheeseisthebest · 29/09/2021 21:31

Currently trying to get my daughter a Dr appointment about extremely heavy periods. Problem is I can never get through to speak to anyone to make her an appointment!

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hellothere007 · 29/09/2021 21:33

agree that in the main periods are not supposed to be so debilitating so always worth an investigation and experimenting with diet to reduce menstrual side-effects.

Oh dear @Palavah

Maybe you should spend less time on MN and more time educating yourself?

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