Spain is poised to take a major leap forward in terms of reproductive health, with plans to introduce menstrual leave from work for people who suffer from severe period pains.
The Spanish government intends to approve a reform plan next week that would offer three to five days of menstrual leave per month for people who deal with excruciating period symptoms, reported The Guardian and The Telegraph. The plan is still in the draft stage and details are being worked out.
"If someone has an illness with such symptoms a temporary disability is granted, so the same should happen with menstruation – allowing a woman with a very painful period to stay at home," Angela Rodriguez, Spain's secretary of state for equality, told Spanish news outlet El Periodico.
Several countries such as Japan, South Korea, Zambia and Indonesia already offer similar benefits. However, this would make Spain the first Western country to make period leave a thing.
And while a few days of lost productivity a month might sound like a hit for many businesses, workers are already taking some of that time in sick days, according to a 2019 study. That study published in the online journal BMJ Open revealed that period pains might be linked to nine days of lost productivity a year. It also suggested that the real impact of menstrual pains on people is highly underestimated.
The Spanish Gynaecology and Obstetrics Society previously said that one-third of people who menstruate suffer from dysmenorrhea which causes severe pains during the menstrual cycle, the Guardian reports.
Symptoms of dysmenorrhea include extreme cramping, pain in the lower abdomen, fever, vomiting, back pains, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, fainting, and general weakness, according to John Hopkins Medicine.
Spain's Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá, has said that the menstrual leave idea is still "under discussion" in the government, reported El Periodico. They also haven't fully ironed out the number of days off that would be offered.
Escrivá explained that the point of the regulation is to create "better conditions" for people who menstruate by allowing them to take part in the labour market and improving their protection.
The menstrual leave idea is being put forward along with several other reforms, including a plan to stop taxing tampon sales and a move to lower the age for teenagers to make health decisions without parental consent, such as abortions.
The same reform plan will also include other measures such as making it a requirement to provide people who menstruate with sanitary products at schools.
If approved, the reform will also provide people in marginalized social groups access to free sanitary products.
The draft plan is expected to be put forward next Tuesday.