Menstruation plays a role in 5 percent of illness reports

Menstrual cramps, often accompanied by flu and cold symptoms, play a role in 5 percent of illness reports among working women. Pregnancy and menopause also contribute to absenteeism due to illness in women. The absenteeism resulting from these complaints is being investigated for the first time.

In 10 percent of women, the symptoms at the time they were last ill were related to pregnancy, menstruation or menopause. This is evident from the National Working Conditions Survey (NEA) that CBS and TNO conducted in the last quarter of 2022. It is the first time that the NEA asks about absenteeism due to menstrual or menopausal complaints. As part of the study, women were asked about their complaints during their last absence and whether they thought these complaints were related to menstruation, menopause or pregnancy. This happened at the request of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour.

If you do not menstruate, you will have relatively many flu or cold complaints.

Nearly half of the women who attributed their illness to menstruation also suffered from flu or cold symptoms. Headache, psychological complaints and fatigue were among the other complaints. Women who suspected a connection with their pregnancy were absent in almost half of the cases due to flu, cold or headache, but often also because of ‘other complaints’.

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Absence is probably due to menstruation rather than menopausal symptoms

Absences due to menstrual problems are more common than absences due to menopause or pregnancy complaints. In 5 percent of employees who were absent from work in the past year, the symptoms of the last absence were related to menstruation, and in 2 percent of employees they were related to menopause. For menstrual problems, absenteeism was the shortest period: almost 9 in 10 women returned to work within 5 working days. Nearly 6 in 10 women miss less than a week of work due to menopausal symptoms. This number is only slightly less than the total number of employees (men and women) absent from work. Women with pregnancy problems stay away from home longer; 3 in 10 people miss 20 days or more of work.

National Survey of Working Conditions (NEA) is a large-scale annual study that monitors changes in the work and working conditions of employees in the Netherlands and the consequences for their health and sustainable employability. In 2022, CBS and TNO jointly held the eighteenth NEA in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. Employees may be absent from work several times a year, but in this study we only asked which complaints were the cause of the most recent absence. If women are absent earlier in the year due to menstrual, menopausal or pregnancy complaints, this will not be taken into account.

  • Author: Franca van Dalen
  • Source: Healthnet