For Inmediate Release

In order to combat the silence around menstruation and menstrual disorders, the European Institute of Women’s Health officially launches its latest policy brief, “Women and Menstruation in the EU.

10th of May 2018The European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) is delighted to launch its newest policy brief, “Women and Menstruation in the EU.”

Menstruation is a natural part of women’s lives and signals good reproductive health.  However, many women are affected by menstrual symptoms, including heavy bleeding and pain.  About 20% of women suffer pain severe enough to interfere with daily activities (dysmenorrhea), and one in four experience heavy menstrual bleeding. 

As a result, severe menstrual pain can significantly impact academic and employment participation.  An estimated 30-50% of young women miss school or work at least once per cycle due to period pain.  Even when school or work is attended, the presence of pain can affect concentration leading to poor performance and productivity.  Thus, period pain can reduce participation in other daily activities for many women.  Women who experience adverse menstrual symptoms report having a significantly lower quality of life than the general female population.    

Despite its individual and societal importance, menstruation is often viewed as a private and intimate matter that one should keep hidden from others.  This view can reinforce the idea that menstruation is a secretive female process, which can adversely affect women’s physical, mental and emotional health.  Societal rules requiring secrecy resulting in concealment of symptoms.  In addition, women report employing coping strategies not only for their own comfort, but also to avoid appearing unreliable, particularly in the workplace where women already combat obstacles and discrimination.    

Women’s perceptions of what is normal with regard to menstruation depends largely upon their understanding of it.  Adverse aspects—such as pain and heavy bleeding—may be tolerated where they are perceived to be a normal part of the menstrual cycle.  In addition, many women are unaware that treatment is available for menstrual symptoms, which has implications for their health.    

The EIWH applauds the World Health Organization’s Action Plan on Sexual and Reproductive Health, which promotes the integration of menstrual management into public health campaigns.  However, menstrual disorders remain widely misunderstood, and women often lack the necessary information and support. 

Consequently, concerted efforts must be made to support the development of policies, programme and practice across Europe that enable women to minimise risk factors for menstrual disorders, recognise abnormal symptoms and seek healthcare at an early stage.  Social activism and health education must be employed in order to reduce stigma and normalise the concept of menstruation.  Action must not only occur in the health sector; women’s health issues, like menstruation, must be integrated into employment and economic policies to adequately address the issues.

For far too long, silence and stigma has surrounded menstruation and menstrual disorders at great expense to society and most importantly, to women themselves.  Civil society, government officials, authorities, healthcare professionals, educators, professional organisations, NGOs, patient organisations, industry and other key stakeholders in Europe must actively collaborate in order to most equitably and effectively tackle the issues.  The EIWH calls on all stakeholders to work together change the conversation from shame to empowerment and to support women in living happy, healthy and productive lives.

For more information and for recommended steps for action, we encourage all stakeholders to check out our newest policy brief, “Women and Menstruation in EU”

For more information, please visit:

About the EIWH

Founded in 1996, the European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that uses an evidence-based to advocate for an equitable, sex- and gender-sensitive approach in health policy, research, promotion, treatment and care.  The Institute promotes biomedical and socio-economic research that addresses sex and gender-based differences to ensure access to quality treatment and care for women across their lifespan.  The EIWH strives to reduce inequities by drawing policymaker’s attention to the obstacles that women in minority, migrant, refugee and socio-economic disadvantaged groups face.  The Institute’s activities work to empower individuals to play an active part in their own health management. 


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