Why am I working on my period?
I want to talk about periods. Specifically, I want to talk about the fact that we don’t actually acknowledge their impact on our day-to-day lives.
Due to centuries of shame and stigma associated with having a period (and female reproductive organs in general), we have learned to just get on with it. We actively try to ignore our period every month. We dismiss the very real pain and discomfort that we feel. We work and socialize and carry on with our day-to-day duties, bleeding all the way.
Should this change? Can it change? During an “IRL Diem” event last week (hosted by Chelsea Leyland, founder of the menstrual care company Looni), dinner guests opened up about how we could start to change the conversation about periods in the workplace. Coincidentally, the event coincided with the first day of my period. I shared this with the table—going into detail about my hot flashes, feeling bloated and exhausted, and that I really wanted to just lie on the floor because my stomach felt like it was being stabbed repeatedly. But it’s funny—before the WFH era, I remember several professional occasions where I had such bad cramps that I actually couldn’t walk without being in pain. But I…didn’t say anything? I didn’t even contemplate going home at the time. We’re so conditioned to just deal with it that we often write off our own painful experiences.
Perhaps this comes from the many decades women have spent trying to prove their worth in the workplace—we can’t show any sign of not being able to get the job done (because then we won’t get the job in the first place). Or perhaps it comes from certain people claiming that PMS is “culturally constructed,” which if you read between the lines, simply means that we discount women’s pain and are totally okay with that. This is crazy!!! People have periods—often—and they usually suck, made worse by the fact that there is no support set up in work environments to make them suck less.
Lately I’ve been testing out the idea of cycle syncing to combat this, which means I’m making lifestyle and work choices based on my menstrual cycle (cycle syncing was popularized by Alisa Vitti, a functional nutritionist and the author of In the Flo). For example, during the week of my period, I find that I’m particularly productive and organized, after which I feel more confident and great at external meetings. When I ovulate, I get super creative. But in the days leading up to my period, I just can’t finish an admin task—it’s simply not going to happen. Of course, since I’m running a company, there are time-sensitive projects that simply don’t fit into this schedule but for the tasks where I do have the luxury of choosing when I work on them, I try my best to do them when I feel most productive. As I’ve been paying attention to these things more and more, I’m starting to think that I should be leaning into my cycle instead of just dealing with it at work. Are there small actions we can take as individuals—or as leaders—to reshape how we work while also taking care of our body’s monthly cycle? I know some companies offer menstrual leave, and that’s certainly a start.
I’d love to hear from you on this—do you think it’s possible to have a better period while you’re working? Feel free to simply vent about how shitty it is to take Zoom calls when you’re on your period, or share the ways you’ve leaned into your period (if you’re experimenting like me). I’d love to hear your thoughts in Diem.
Big news! Our app got a new look, meaning we’re one step closer to our mission of building a social search engine that closes the gender information gap. We wrote a guide about our new approach—learn how to Diem here.
What We’re Reading…
👀 Friends are good for us. Why do so many of us have none at all? (The Guardian)
👀 Social media is dead (Vice)
From last week’s (final) Diem Doc on The Kid Decision…
Question: If you have children, was there a moment when you decided you were ready?
I had always thought I wanted kids, but despite marrying at 30, by 35 I still didn’t feel ready. The longer I waited the more panicked I became - maybe I wasn’t meant to be a mum, maybe my marriage couldn’t survive parenthood, what if I felt trapped by being a mother, what if I was giving up other opportunities, some other great life? I eventually decided I would regret not having kids more than I would regret having them, and I worried that waiting much longer would make my mind up for me, so we started trying. I was half expecting to struggle as many of my friends had, but luckily we didn’t. Six years down the track, we have two children, 6 and 3. I don’t regret having children, they have enriched my life beyond measure. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I do miss the freedom I used to have, though interestingly, I don’t miss my old life at all.
Read more and contribute, here.
Till next time,