In this businessline podcast, Dr Madhuri Vidhyashankar P, a renowned gynecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Bengaluru, talks to businessline’s Anjana PV regarding the ongoing discussions surrounding menstrual leave policies. She emphasises the prevalence of dysmenorrhea, affecting 40-50% of young girls and 50-60% of women in the reproductive age group. Dr Madhuri points out that, while some may experience prolonged and severe pain due to conditions like adenomyosis or endometriosis, blanket menstrual leave policies may not be universally beneficial. 

She highlights the availability of effective medications, ranging from mild analgesics to advanced treatments, which can alleviate menstrual discomfort for 80-90% of women. Dr Madhuri requests for an individualised approach to menstrual leave, considering the varying needs of women based on their health conditions. 

The conversation delves into the changing perceptions of menstruation, noting stark differences between rural and urban areas. Rural women often view menstruation as a divine and anticipated occurrence, while urban women are well-informed and open about discussing it. Dr Madhuri acknowledges the positive shift in attitudes, attributed to comprehensive sex education. 

Addressing the use of pills during menstruation, Dr Madhuri assures that, when prescribed by a gynecologist, these medications are safe and essential for managing conditions like dysmenorrhea. She advocates for open-mindedness among parents and society to allow young girls to manage their pain effectively. 

She also touches upon the potential impact of menstruation-related issues on women’s productivity at work. Discrimination based on menstruation could disincentivise employers from hiring female workers, perpetuating gender bias. 

The conversation concludes with a discussion on menstrual hygiene in India. Dr Madhuri commends recent initiatives like reduced GST on sanitary napkins and the availability of affordable pads through government schemes. She stresses the importance of comprehensive sex education, awareness, and eradication of social taboos for holistic menstrual hygiene practices across the country.