Periods may be a fact of life, but that doesn’t mean your mood, productivity and wellbeing go unaffected. At work, hormones can cause bursts of motivation followed by stretches of low energy. Many women – even those without painful menstrual cycles – wish they could snuggle up under a doona for the week! Reality calls however, and if you’re a FIFO worker or in a job requiring long shifts or physical labour it’s crucial not to be caught off guard when Aunt Flow says hello.

Here are six tips for how to manage your period for work.

Wear comfortable clothes

Comfort is key when it comes to menstruating. If you experience bloating or breast tenderness during your period, comfortable clothing is a must. Co Gear has designed durable, comfortable, high quality work clothes, especially for women, in sizes 4-26. There is a regular range, as well as maternity and high-vis options. Some of the special features available (depending on the range) include cargo pants with adjustable waistbands or length adjustments, and shirts with privacy buttons (to prevent gaping).

Plan ahead

Periods can come early, so always be prepared with tampons or pads in your luggage or bag/pockets in case. It’ll save you from having to ask your colleagues for supplies or from having to ask your boss for an unplanned break. If you experience severe cramps, ensure you take a heat pad with you to work to apply during breaks or whenever you can. 

Eat Well

Eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet is important at any time, including when you have your period. High-fibre and magnesium-rich foods (such as green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains) are particularly helpful during menstruation. Food regulates the body’s metabolism so be aware of what you’re eating, and pack healthy snacks and meals to avoid reaching for junk food. Also avoid foods high in salt as this causes water retention and leads to more bloating. 

Drink plenty of water

Adequate water intake helps balance hormone levels, especially estrogen, and regulates the menstrual cycle. On a busy workday, we can forget to drink water so keep a water bottle handy to regularly sip from. There are water bottles on the market that help you track your water intake so consider one of those if you are struggling to get in your eight glasses a day (or more if you’re doing a lot of exercise/the weather is hot).

Avoid caffeine

Try to avoid coffee during menstruation as it can restrict blood vessels and worsen pain.  If you experience cramps herbal teas like green tea, peppermint and ginger can help.

Sleep well

Melatonin (the sleep hormone) is produced at night and has a huge impact on our menstrual cycles. Get a full night’s sleep if you can (or a full 8-10 hours of uninterrupted restful sleep in a dark room if you’re a shift worker). Sleep acts as a natural remedy during your period.

Fortunately, these days women and workplaces are becoming more open about acknowledging menstrual cycles. Some forward-thinking businesses have sanitary items available in the workplace for when women are caught off guard. More research is being conducted on how cycles affect women’s hormones so that women can thrive and manage their periods effectively.  

  • A helpful resource for learning more about periods and symptoms/pain affecting women is the Jean Hailes for Women’s Health website here.
  • A helpful resource for learning about the changes in hormones and links to periods and productivity can be found at Healthline here.



July 28, 2022 — Candice van Rooyen

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