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Women would rather ‘suffer in silence’ than tell their boss about period pains

WOMEN would rather suffer in silence at work than admit they are struggling with a health condition, new research has revealed.

Around six in 10 women say they wouldn’t feel comfortable discussing topics such as menstrual cramps, smear tests, breast examinations or menopause with a manager.

Women are ‘too embarrassed’ to talk about female health with their employers, a study has found

The poll of 2,000 adults who are biologically female found that 40 per cent said this was because it would be too awkward an uncomfortable.

Around 36 per cent said they would feel embarrassed, and 22 per cent said they would keep quite as they didn’t want to come across as a ‘slacker’ to other.

It’s not just in the workplace where women are keeping tight lipped, as a quarter won’t discuss post-pregnancy issues with family or friends.

The study was commissioned by health and dental plan provider Simplyhealth to spark one million ‘comfortable conversations’ about female health during Women’s Health Month with its campaign #comfyconvos.

Clinical Director, Catherine Rutland, said: “No one should suffer in silence and our survey shows that too many women in the UK are doing just that.

“Whether that is at work, or in their personal life, women are feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed discussing perfectly normal health concerns.

“It’s time we broke down those barriers and banished the taboos.”

The study also found 47 per cent of employed respondents didn’t think their bosses would understand health issues specifically affecting their gender.

While 43 per cent worried they’ll be viewed as weak, and 47 per cent didn’t think their issue would be recognised as an illness.

Despite 54 per cent having no problem discussing general health conditions, such as the flu, backpain and Covid-19, 43 per cent have ‘suffered in silence’ at work while being worried about a female-specific ailment.

Menstrual cramps (33 per cent) and menopause (18 per cent) are among the issues women have kept to themselves.

While 13 per cent have suffered with miscarriage but didn’t tell their employer anything was wrong.

In fact, more than a quarter would keep quiet about miscarriage over fears it would impact their career opportunities or potential pay increases.

It also emerged three in 10 professionals have lied to an employer about why they’ve needed time off work when experiencing a female health issue.

Only one in 10 of those who are going through or have gone through the menopause feel comfortable enough to approach their manager for time off due to symptoms.

In comparison, 40 per cent would ask permission to visit the dentist.

Loss of concentration (40 per cent), crumbling anxiety (39 per cent) and debilitating hot flushes (35 per cent) are among some of the menopausal symptoms people admit to hiding at work.

Women’s health issues are also impacting exercise for many, with 44 per cent claiming painful menstrual cycles stop them from playing sport or going to the gym.

And 39 per cent admitted feelings of shame or embarrassment of their body puts them off exercise or playing sport publicly.

A further 46 per cent of women polled via OnePoll are also demonstrating reluctance to have these conversations with their GP,  with 45 per cent more likely to open-up if they had access to more bespoke health services, more in tune with women’s needs.

Catherine Rutland added: “We’ve have been providing access to healthcare for 150 years, following this insight, we understand that more needs to be done.

“That’s why it is encouraging one million comfortable conversations about women’s health in 2022.”