Blood work: Managing menstruation, menopause and gynaecological health conditions in the workplace

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Abstract

The menstrual cycle remains neglected in explorations of public health, and entirely remiss in occupational health literature, despite being a problematic source of gendered inequalities at work. This paper proposes the new concept of blood work to explain the relationship between menstruation (and associated gynaecological health conditions) and employment for women and trans/non-binary people. We build on and extend health and organisational literature on managing bodies at work by arguing that those who experience menstruation face additional work or labour in the management of their own bodies through the menstrual cycle. We discuss how this additional labour replicates problematic elements that are identifiable in public health initiatives, in that it is individualised, requiring individual women and trans/non-binary people to navigate unsupportive workplaces. We present findings from an analysis of qualitative survey data that were completed by 627 participants working in higher education, revealing that employees’ blood work comprises distinct difficulties that are related to the management of painful, leaking bodies, access to facilities, stigma, and balancing workload. We suggest developing supportive workplaces and public health policies, which refocus the responsibility for accessible, equal workplaces that accommodate menstruating employees, and those with gynaecological health conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1951
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2021

Keywords

  • Blood
  • Body work
  • Gynaecological health
  • Higher education
  • Menstruation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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