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Employers must act to address ‘harmful taboos’ around periods, say campaigners

Campaigners have called on employers to address the “culture of discomfort and ignorance” around periods



Employers must take proactive steps to address “harmful taboos” around menstruation, campaigners have warned, as research shows more than two-thirds of women in the UK have bad experiences at work because of their periods.

In a survey of more than 2,000 women by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), 69 per cent of participants said they had a negative experience at work because of their menstrual symptoms.

More than half said they had had to miss work because of their period symptoms, with one in five taking sick leave. Only one in 10 women said their organisation provided support for menstrual health.

Now campaigners have called on employers to address the “culture of discomfort and ignorance” around periods and implement policies that acknowledge the needs of women.

“It’s high time we address the glaring oversight of menstrual health in the workplace,” Clare Knox, CEO of the training provider See Her Thrive, told Femtech World.

“We have the power to change this narrative and create a workplace where every individual feels valued, respected and supported in managing their health needs.

“Ignoring this crucial aspect of employee health and wellbeing not only perpetuates harmful taboos but also undermines workplace inclusivity and support.”

Ruby Raut, founder and CEO of the period pants brand Wuka, said that considering that most women experience periods for about 40 years of their lives and spend significant time at work, workplaces must acknowledge the challenges associated with menstruation.

“Employers should normalise discussions about periods and recognise periods as a natural aspect of life, fostering a fairer and more supportive environment for all employees, regardless of gender.

“Additionally, offering accommodations such as flexible hours or rest areas for those experiencing discomfort during their period can greatly support employees’ wellbeing.”

Research shows period stigma, a term that refers to the negative perception of menstruation and those who menstruate, is still rife in the UK.

According to a survey by WaterAid published last year, eight in 10 women in the UK feel they are held back in their careers by taboos around periods, with a staggering 85 per cent reporting experiencing stress or anxiety when managing their periods at work.

Petchara Newson, business development coordinator at the period poverty charity Freedom4Girls, said it is disheartening to see that menstrual health continues to be overlooked in the workplace.

“The silence and stigma surrounding menstruation perpetuate a culture of discomfort and ignorance, making it challenging for women to access the support they need,” she told Femtech World.

“Employers must take proactive steps to address these issues and create a more inclusive environment for all employees. This includes implementing policies that acknowledge the needs of menstruators, such as providing menstrual products, offering flexible work hours or remote options and promoting open dialogue about menstrual health.”

Newson called for more education and awareness campaigns to “debunk” myths and misconceptions and tackle the lack of public understanding about menstruation.

“Educating managers is an incredibly important first step. If they are not equipped with the right knowledge, those with periods and especially heavy periods will not feel comfortable asking for support.”

Terri Harris, education and communication manager at Bloody Good Period, said employers should understand the unique experiences and challenges people face and act accordingly.

“Employers should focus on improving the communications, culture and broader policy around periods in the workplace – and at the heart of this all – tackle the stigma that too often still accompanies any discussion around menstruation.

“If stigma is not tackled, the result is that people who menstruate – no matter what workplace changes are put in place – will still struggle to get and ask for the appropriate support they need in the workplace,” she explained.

With the demand for reproductive health benefits on the rise, Lauren Berkemeyer, chief marketing officer at the insurtech firm Yu Life, said that companies that hope to remain attractive to employees in a tight labour market should do more to challenge “outdated attitudes” and support women.

“Women suffer from debilitating cramps or brain fog, things that hamper a their abilities to work, but are not seeking help. As a result, many drop out of work.

“Remote work options and flexible schedules are key solutions this problem. Second to that, I believe, are workplace benefits that provide menstrual and menopausal support.

“YuLife partners with great women’s health apps like Hertility and Stella which not only help women understand their bodies, but manage symptoms that stand in the way of them working.”

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Apricity Fertility launches new Freeze and Share programme

The Freeze and Share programme offers a solution for women who wish to preserve their fertility



In response to the growing demand for affordable fertility options and the pressing need for egg donors, the UK virtual fertility clinic Apricity has launched an innovative Freeze and Share programme.

The initiative is designed to make egg freezing more accessible and cost-effective while simultaneously addressing the shortage of donor eggs in the UK.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of women choosing to freeze their eggs. According to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the number of egg freezing cycles in the UK has surged by 81 per cent to 2022. Despite this growing trend, the high costs associated with the procedure—typically upwards of £5000—have made it unaffordable for many.

The Freeze and Share programme offers a solution for women who wish to preserve their fertility; by opting to share their eggs, they can substantially reduce the cost of egg freezing.

This act not only makes the procedure more affordable but also provides much longer for donor eggs for those that need them.

Addressing the egg donor shortage

The UK faces a shortage of egg donors, with many patients experiencing long waiting times for a donor. Current statistics reveal that one in six IVF cycles are donation cycles in the UK, yet demand far outstrips supply.

Prospective parents can wait up to two years to find a suitable donor, and for many they decide to travel abroad to places like Spain and Cyprus. This brings different considerations for patients as egg donation in other countries is regulated differently to the UK, with most egg donation being completely anonymous. 

Apricity’s new programme directly addresses this gap by encouraging egg sharing. Participants in the Freeze and Share programme can donate a portion of their eggs to be used by individuals or couples in need, thereby reducing waiting times and helping more people achieve their dreams of parenthood.

“We are incredibly proud to launch our Freeze and Share Programme, which represents a significant advancement in our fertility services,” said Mel Chacksfield, CEO of Apricity Fertility.

“This new service will not only make egg freezing more accessible and affordable to the many women who may not usually have the chance to preserve their fertility, but will also mean we can better support our families and parents that rely on donor eggs to start their families.

“Our commitment to providing personalised care through innovation in the sector continues to drive us forward, ensuring we meet the evolving needs of all our patients”

To be eligible for egg sharing, women will need to meet specific criteria such as BMI, age and ovarian reserve. They will have unlimited counselling throughout the process to ensure they are fully informed and supported from the start.

Women who choose to participate in the Freeze and Share programme will then undergo the standard egg freezing process. A portion of the retrieved eggs will be frozen for their personal use, while the remaining eggs will be donated to Apricity’s frozen egg donor bank.

This mutually beneficial arrangement ensures that participants receive significant financial relief while offering a lifeline to those in need of donor eggs.

For more information on Freeze & Share visit Apricity’s website 

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Endometriosis needs to be taken as seriously as diabetes, says report



A new report, which called for “urgent” changes in endometriosis care, has said the condition should be taken as seriously as diabetes.

The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) report examined the long-standing issues faced by women with endometriosis in the UK.

The study stated that endometriosis should be treated as a chronic condition and taken as seriously as illnesses such as diabetes and bowel disease.

Currently, endometriosis symptoms are treated as multiple isolated episodes, with symptoms often going unrecognised by healthcare practitioners as potentially being endometriosis.

The report recommended that training for healthcare professionals should be improved to recognise the symptoms of endometriosis and that patients should be asked about how the condition affects them beyond just the physical symptoms.

Professor Andrew Horne, director of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Reproductive Health, said: “Endometriosis is frequently treated as a series of acute episodes rather than as a continuous, chronic condition. This fragmented care model overlooks the necessity for ongoing, comprehensive management, which is crucial.

“The NCEPOD report recognises the gaps in our current approach and provides important actionable guidance to drive improvements in endometriosis care.”

Emma Cox, CEO of Endometriosis UK, said: “NCEPOD’s report clearly evidences the issues faced today by those with endometriosis, and the recommendations show how improvements can – and must – be made. Implementing these will not only reduce suffering for those with endometriosis, it will also save the NHS time and resources.

“The report comes at a perfect time; we have a new government who have committed to no longer neglect women’s health, and to prioritise women’s health as the NHS is reformed.”

Dr Katy Vincent, associate professor in the Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health, University of Oxford, added: “Endometriosis affects all areas of life and the information collected by this enquiry starkly illustrates the challenges that those with the condition experience.

“I am particularly pleased to see that the report highlights the need for holistic, multi-disciplinary care and for a pathway that takes into account the chronic nature of the disease, as these are areas that I have long considered need improvement.”

She continued: “I hope that those who contributed their experiences to the report feel they were heard and that clinicians and policy makers can now take these findings on board to urgently improve care for this common condition.”

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Daye launches workplace app to plug gaps in female healthcare support

The service helps promote health equity in the workplace by providing vital resources to support women’s health conditions



The award-winning UK gynaecological health company Daye has launched its new workplace app, Daye for Work.

The app can be offered to employees across the UK as a workplace benefit, providing them with much-needed access to services that are often lacking from the NHS and even private healthcare companies.

Women face a widening gap in healthcare provision, with three-quarters saying they cannot access the services they need and 84 per cent reporting not being listened to by a healthcare professional.

Health issues can have a big impact on women’s careers, with three in five women saying a female health condition has affected them in the workplace.

However, support for women’s health is often lacking in the workplace. According to Benden Health, four in ten women have heard derogatory comments about a female employee’s health in the workplace.

As a result, 42 per cent of females admit that they are uncomfortable discussing health issues with their manager.

In addition, more than two thirds of female employees (70 per cent) have found it difficult to deal with periods at work and 64 per cent have faced challenges when experiencing menopause.

Offering support to employees struggling with female health conditions can help attract and retain staff, with 70 per cent of workers willing to change jobs for women’s health benefits.

Daye for Work provides an accessible and personalised service for women and assigned female at birth (AFAB) individuals.

Through the app, employees of businesses who sign up for Daye for Work can access Daye’s Menstrual Health Programme, which provides access to period pain support, plugging a major gap in healthcare provision as it can take years to diagnose conditions linked to menstrual health, such as endometriosis and adenomyosis.

Currently, menstrual pain support is also not offered by major private healthcare providers. Yet period pain can be so severe that nearly a quarter of women (23 per cent) have taken time off work for menstrual symptoms in the last six months, with nine days of productivity per woman lost every year, according to the British Medical Journal.

In monetary terms, women can lose tens of thousands during their careers as they are forced to take time off work.

Daye for Work also offers a Gynae Health Screening Programme, where users can access specialists for gynaecological-related health issues, such as recurrent vaginal infections, which is another service lacking through the NHS and private healthcare companies.

While users can access help from leading specialists through instant virtual appointments, Daye also offers at-home diagnostic tampon tests that can detect vaginal infections and STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, and soon they will also be able to detect HPV, which is the biggest cause of cervical cancer.

Users receive clear, actionable results via the platform and have prescriptions delivered to their homes.

Daye also offers educational support programmes, including workshops and webinars covering hot topics in female health, and HR policy and internal comms support. Employees signed up through their company get 20 per cent off products on the Daye website.

Valentina Milanova, founder and CEO of Daye, said: “Gaps in women’s health provision are impacting workplaces all over the UK. Female and AFAB staff are regularly forced to take time off while struggling to access much-needed support, advice and diagnosis, hitting workplace productivity and all too often being detrimental to women’s careers.

“Daye for Work will play a vital role in plugging the gaps in female healthcare, offering services that take years to access on the NHS and aren’t available from private healthcare providers.

“Offering such tailored support is transformational for workplace culture, making staff feel valued and understood, while also helping to attract and retain talent.”

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