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Free period products at work would relieve anxiety and stress, say nurses

Staff recount ‘embarrassing’ situations that could be avoided, and the RCN joins the call for products to be easily accessible in the workplace

Staff recount ‘embarrassing’ situations that could be avoided, and the RCN joins the call for products to be easily accessible in the workplace

Nurses have spoken of the anxiety and dread of having periods at work, adding that free period products in the workplace would ‘take one giant stressor off your life’.

The comments come as leading nurses from the RCN call for period products to be free and easily available to all healthcare staff. The British Medical Association has also requested that products be available for the well-being and comfort of staff.

Plea

Staff recount ‘embarrassing’ situations that could be avoided, and the RCN joins the call for products to be easily accessible in the workplace

Picture: iStock

Nurses have spoken of the anxiety and dread of having periods at work, adding that free period products in the workplace would ‘take one giant stressor off your life’.

The comments come as leading nurses from the RCN call for period products to be free and easily available to all healthcare staff. The British Medical Association has also requested that products be available for the well-being and comfort of staff.

Plea for understanding if a colleague experiences a period at work

Advanced care practitioner in trauma and orthopaedics Lisa Andrews said she wanted colleagues to understand why she might have to leave the ward during shifts if she starts her period or bleeds through sanitary products.

‘Many times I have had accidents which are embarrassing, and I have to stay at work in the same clothes. I dread the thought of having to wear scrubs as they are a lot thinner than my work clothes.’

‘To talk about periods is very taboo’

Intensive care unit nurse Alicia, based in Scotland, told Nursing Standard that having her period at work is ‘very stressful’.

‘The entire time you are worried that you are bleeding through to your scrubs, everyone will know… to talk about periods is very taboo,’ she said.

She added that free period products at work would ‘help take one giant stressor off your life’ and ‘it would be a lot nicer to go to the toilet and know they are there.’

Large number of nurses have to manage a period at work

A recent survey of 3,000 people by charity Bloody Good Period found nine out of 10 respondents had experienced stress or anxiety at work because of their period. Having an employer who normalises the discussion of menstrual health at work would help, said 63% of respondents.

With nine out of 10 nurses being women and almost two-thirds (65%) aged under 50 – just under the average age of menopause at 51 – a significant proportion of nurses are having to consider how to manage their period at work.

Adequate breaks are vital so staff can access period products, says RCN

RCN women’s health forum chair Katharine Gale told Nursing Standard: ‘The RCN feels that for dignity in the workplace [healthcare staff] need access to menstrual products.’

She added that period products should be available in workplaces at a ‘reasonable cost or free’ as many nurses are under financial strain.

RCN Scotland board chair Julie Lamberth said: ‘As well as availability of period products, nursing staff need to be able to take their breaks so they can access them.’

More clarity needed on access to period products

A recent freedom of information request by Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon found that health boards in Scotland do not have a policy for making period products accessible to nurses and other healthcare staff.

NHS Confederation said policies about free period products for nurses and other healthcare staff would be the responsibility of individual organisations.

NHS England and the Northern Ireland Department of Health have been contacted for comment on their policies.


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