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Nurses resort to incontinence pants on shifts during periods

Some also rely on medication to cope with menstrual cramps during long shifts

Some nursing staff also rely on medication to cope with heavy periods and menstrual cramps during long shifts

Nurses are resorting to wearing incontinence pants to cope with heavy periods during long shifts at work.

One nurse said she had needed to ask her employer to bring her spare trousers after bleeding through sanitary items during 12-hour shifts.

‘I had some very heavy bleeding prior to my full hysterectomy so I used to wear pull up incontinence pants, but had a few times where I had to call my employer from the loo and get spare trousers brought to me,’ they said.

Call to end taboo around the subject of periods

Some nursing staff also rely on medication to cope with heavy periods and menstrual cramps during long shifts

Nurses are resorting to wearing incontinence pants to cope with heavy periods during long shifts at work.
Picture: iStock

Nurses are resorting to wearing incontinence pants to cope with heavy periods during long shifts at work.

One nurse said she had needed to ask her employer to bring her spare trousers after bleeding through sanitary items during 12-hour shifts.

‘I had some very heavy bleeding prior to my full hysterectomy so I used to wear pull up incontinence pants, but had a few times where I had to call my employer from the loo and get spare trousers brought to me,’ they said.

Call to end taboo around the subject of periods

Responding on the Nursing Standard Facebook page to a news analysis on the health risks of long shifts and periods, others said they relied on medication and sometimes took annual leave. Several respondents called for an end to the ‘taboo’ around periods.

One nurse said: ‘I had to use incontinence pads and dose myself up on meds to get through a shift on my period. Absolutely horrendous that there’s no provision for women’s health.’

While another said: ‘I have in the past requested annual leave around my period on the heaviest times.

‘On heavy days I can’t go longer than an hour without needing to use the facilities and I have leaked through more times than I would like to admit.’

Nurses previously told Nursing Standard they often used tampons for longer than the recommended time, which can increase the risk of the rare, but potentially life-threatening, toxic shock syndrome (TSS).

Nurses doubling-up on sanitary products and working through painful menstrual cramps

TSS is triggered by bacterial infection releasing toxins into the bloodstream and is associated with wearing tampons for too long, or the use of ‘super-absorbent’ tampons.

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

Others told Nursing Standard they often doubled-up sanitary products, worked through painful menstrual cramps and said they did not feel confident they could get to a toilet in time.

At least one NHS trust is working with charity Bloody Good Period to develop period-friendly policies for staff. Bloody Good Period director of communications Rachel Grocott said it was ‘essential’ that more employers followed suit to improve the health and well-being of their employees.


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