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The menstrual revolution: from monthly sick notes due to periods to a brilliant business idea
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The menstrual revolution: from monthly sick notes due to periods to a brilliant business idea

Kinga Bartczak
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menstruflow geht gegen Menstruationsbeschwerden vor
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Die Menstruationsrevolution
Polina Sergeeva
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menstruflow geht gegen Menstruationsbeschwerden vor

At the beginning of the year, during a quiet moment on vacation, I came to an important realization: I am 29 years old and for years I have been plagued by severe period pain every month, which regularly makes me unable to work. The peak of my frustration was a loud “I don’t want this anymore.” – An outcry that changed everything on that vacation. My name is Polina and I’m tired of being disappointed by conventional methods, instead I want to do things differently. My partner, who knew my challenges and had been experiencing my suffering for years, was equally frustrated and together we looked for alternatives.

From a completely frustrated “I don’t want this anymore” to an absolutely enthusiastic: “I’ve finally found a solution!”

After extensive research and a professional discussion with the gynaecologist Dr. Ulrike Lange, who later became our medical advisor, the first product idea was realized. ONEflow, a TENS device for menstrual pain. After internal tests and positive feedback, it was clear that we wanted to start not just a product, but a movement.

A holistic solution for everyday work and life was born

This ultimately led to the founding of menstruflow, a company dedicated to creating a pain-free everyday life for menstruating people. The aim is to ensure that nobody sees their vacation affected by pain or has to call in sick to work, as was the case with me for years.

Our idea was reinforced by a conversation with my boss at the time about the challenges of menstruation. This opened up a completely new business area for us: “Employee Benefits”, in which we felt statistically proven.

The figures speak for themselves

According to a 2017 survey, around 3% of 33,000 women called in sick with every or almost every menstruation. The women who did not take sick leave despite the pain lost an average of 33% of their productivity per year. These figures illustrate the extent to which menstrual pain can affect work performance and underline the urgency of implementing appropriate measures in the work environment to address this issue. For this reason, the logical consequence for us was to commit ourselves to sensitizing companies and thus employers and to offer them a practical solution to meet this challenge in a timely manner.

The topic of “periods” must be de-tabooed in the business context

Our experiences inspired many and showed that innovative solutions can arise from personal challenges. By addressing the topic of menstruation in the workplace, we were able to open doors that had previously remained closed.

We have learned that open communication about menstruation and offering support such as flexible working hours or health benefits can make the workload more realistic and reduce discrimination. Companies that recognize such challenges contribute to a more inclusive and fairer world of work.

How can the world of work and business become more “menstruation-friendly”?

  • Open communication: The topic of “menstruation” should also be discussed openly in the working environment, as this allows companies to better understand the burdens menstruating employees face. This can lead to increased productivity and greater employee satisfaction, as no one has to sit in pain in the office any more.
  • Healthier working environment: Removing taboos creates an environment in which employees feel comfortable talking about their needs. Companies can then offer targeted support, e.g. through flexible working hours, changes to the working environment, health measures such as yoga and targeted relaxation exercises as well as health services such as menstrual products or pain-relieving products.
  • Recognition of menstrual pain: When companies recognize menstrual pain as a medical problem, this promotes equality in the workplace and reduces discrimination and prejudice. At the same time, stereotypes and gender clichés are broken down and sayings such as: “She’s probably on her period again” are avoided.
  • Innovative solutions: Addressing menstruation in the workplace can lead to new solutions that increase both employee wellbeing and productivity.

It also increases the self-efficacy of menstruating employees, who can adjust their work performance according to their cycle and thus perform better at work.

A few personal words at the end

This article is not a classic success story. It is an insight into the reality of the lives of menstruating people who endure their suffering in silence every month. I set out for these people and I hope that the readers who resonate with me at this point will also be able to turn their “I don’t want this anymore” into a “Hell, yes! I finally know how to solve it” for themselves.

FAQ – Let’s talk about menstruation!

With such an important topic, there are always exciting questions that remain unanswered. Here are the most common questions at a glance:

1. is it common to call in sick because of period pain?

Yes, it is not uncommon for menstruating people to have to call in sick, especially if they are suffering from severe period pain. Period sickness is a recognized problem that affects many people but is often not openly discussed.

2. what measures can a company take to offer support in the event of sick leave due to periods?

Companies can create a supportive environment by offering flexible working arrangements and addressing the issue openly. This also includes the provision of healthcare services, such as access to period products or products for pain relief during menstruation, such as the ONEflow TENS device from menstruflow.

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3. how can menstruflow help to reduce the number of sick days due to periods?

The ONEflow TENS device from menstruflow has been specially developed to relieve menstrual pain. It offers an effective, drug-free alternative that can help reduce the need for sick leave due to periods.

4. what is the percentage of women who call in sick because of period pain?

A survey from 2017 found that around 3% of 33,000 women surveyed have to report sick every or almost every menstruation. This figure clearly shows how widespread the phenomenon of calling in sick due to periods is.

5 Why is it important to address the issue of sick leave due to periods at work?

Recognizing sick leave for periods in the workplace is crucial to fostering an inclusive and understanding work environment. It helps to reduce discrimination and shows that the company cares about the well-being of its female employees.

6. is there special leave for sick leave due to period pain?

Unfortunately, there is no such special regulation in Germany yet. However, Spain and some Asian countries (such as Taiwan and South Korea) are playing a pioneering role here. In Spain, women will in future be allowed to be excused from work for several days a month if they are unable to work due to severe menstrual cramps. The corresponding law came into force in June 2023.

Raffle

If you haven’t already rushed to your employer to tell them that in addition to tampons, pads and menstrual cups, there is another absolute highlight in the area of pain relief during menstruation, I have a little surprise for you together with FemalExperts magazine.

We’re giving away a complete ONEflow TENS unit from menstruflow so you can finally say goodbye to period pain! Click here to go directly to the competition on Instagram.

About the author

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Kinga Bartczak advises, coaches and writes on female empowerment, new work culture, organizational development, systemic coaching and personal branding. She is also the managing director of UnternehmerRebellen GmbH and publisher of the FemalExperts magazine .

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