With the UK lagging behind other nations in supporting menstruating and menopausal women in the workplace, Rosie Greenaway hears from the brands and experts calling for positive changes to HR policy 

Since Daniella Peri launched Yoppie in 2016, the menstrual care brand has done much to advocate for women, speaking up about subjects which society stays quiet on and simplifying the complex inner workings of women’s reproductive organs.  

In March, the ‘pioneers of personalized menstrual health’ produced a guide explaining the four stages of a woman’s cycle. It is time, the brand believes, ‘to quit talking about just the period and shine a light on the full menstrual cycle’. The guide explains how long each stage typically lasts (although this can vary dramatically, body to body) and offers advice on navigating each stage healthfully. 

After research found that 96% of women in the UK aren’t offered menstrual leave from work (even for the most extreme PMS) Yoppie is now calling on businesses to change their HR handbooks, with any policies introduced to be separate from sick leave and flexible working. 

84% of women asked said they would support such a policy becoming a legal workplace requirement – probably because the global picture exposes how far behind the UK is, despite being a wealthy country which ‘considers itself a leader in social equality and human rights’. China, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea already grant menstrual leave; Spain recently approved a bill to make it the first European country to follow suit; and in Zambia women can prosecute their employer if their one permitted day a month is denied.  

Peri says the UK is ‘falling short’ of basic employment rights ‘by constantly ignoring the issue of menstrual leave’. “While those nations that already offer some form of leave might not be getting it absolutely right, they’re miles ahead of us. 

“Some will argue that our general sick leave policies are sufficient to cover menstrual leave, but if a woman is having to take a day or two sick leave every month compared to the average of four or five sick days a year, employers may start to look unfavourably on them. It’s this stigma that causes many to refrain from taking time off work when PMS hits in fear that they won’t be treated equally against their male counterparts. 

“Menstrual symptoms are not something that can be ignored – for some women, the pain can be debilitating and the ability to focus on work all but vanishes. Unless, as a nation, we start to differentiate between unforeseen bouts of sickness and the cyclical nature of period pains, stigmas that have been allowed to grow will only continue to flourish. We must work to ensure that menstruation is put on the political agenda. If we can’t make this happen via the Government, we want to empower women to come together and campaign for change in their own workplace.”

Deep-rooted stigmas
One argument for paid menstrual leave is that it reduces ‘period shaming’. While it might sound like something which belongs in a school playground, Dr Jacob Hascalovici, chief medical officer at digital healthcare platform Clearing, says it’s ‘a very real thing’ in the workplace, experienced by two in five women. 

“Period shaming at work is when somebody is bullied, isolated or joked about in the workplace because they are on their period. This can lead to them being unable to perform specific work tasks or ask for special accommodations, such as extra time off work or light duty due to being on their period,” says Hascalovici. “Many women report feeling embarrassed about period-related concerns, including flooding, or very heavy periods, as well as pain.

“Deep-rooted stigmas about menstruation have existed for a very long time, and due to misunderstanding, prejudice, superstitions or discomfort, many people make light of menstruation or try to avoid acknowledging it, even though it is a completely normal and natural process.

“These barriers to understanding and open communication can make it difficult for people who are menstruating to get sufficient support at work or at school. They will often try to conceal their pain or ‘just push through it’, adding to physical and mental stress that can often make pain worse.”

Changing the culture
Another issue which should be higher on the workplace agenda is menopause. For the first time there are more women aged 60-64 in employment than not, making them the fastest growing working demographic – and they’re suffering their symptoms in silence. We might automatically think of the every-day woman here, but a growing number of celebrities are opening up about the nitty-gritty of how changing hormones have impacted their careers. 

When DJ Jo Whiley revealed she had struggled to present the Radio 2 Drivetime show due to brain fog, her comments no doubt resonated with millions of women in work. “I felt I was a liability on the radio. It was a very uncomfortable feeling not being in charge of what I was doing, suddenly grappling for words,” Whiley explained after listener numbers dropped. “I’ll be doing fine, then it hits me: low self-esteem, low confidence. I don’t feel like myself at all. It’s quite daunting. It happens every couple of months. I don’t want to see anyone. My eyes get really sore. I get a burning mouth and tongue. I really get the wobbles.” 

A study from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found six in ten women said their work life had been negatively affected by the menopause and they’d considered reducing hours or quitting. Dr Nicky Keay, chief medical officer at Forth, is campaigning for this ‘natural part of the female journey’ to be better recognized by employers to ensure women thrive at work and don’t waste skills and expertise accumulated throughout their professional lives. ‘The same support systems and legislation that is in place for pregnancy and maternity leave’ is needed for menopause, she argues.   

Mindful menopause
Lucy Edwards, founder of Mindful Remedies, offers gentle relief to menopausal women through Bach Flower Remedies. Made famous by Rescue Remedy, the full range consists of 38 individual flower essences which Edwards pairs according to clients’ needs. Having tested positive for coronavirus ‘the day that Boris announced lockdown’, she went on to suffer from long COVID for a further year. When most routes brought no relief to residual fatigue and anxiety – including supplements, dry skin brushing, kinesiology and acupuncture – Edwards turned to olive flower remedy and experienced such a dramatic, permanent shift that she became a practitioner.  

While ‘times of crisis’ are major drivers of traffic to her site, with a 90-95% female client base, Edwards says ‘changes in life’ are another top reason why people turn to flower remedies. “One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to health. I want to give people a bit of control and choice,” says Edwards, who offers consultations and bespoke remedies to ease symptoms of menopause while providing women with the tools to help themselves in future. 

“When we look at the emotional impact [of menopause] the ones that I would recommend are walnut … helping you to stabilize through periods of change, letting go of the past, moving forward positively and accepting the future. Then you’ve got mood swings [which] can be supported by … scleranthus – a balancing flower – if you’re indecisive [or] vacillate between emotions.” 

“Menstrual symptoms are not something that can be ignored – for some women, the pain
can be debilitating”

She recommends holly for temper, spitefulness or jealousy; beech for intolerance – ‘if you’re overly critical or judgemental, you can’t see other people’s point of view’; impatience for irritation, ‘particularly if things aren’t going as quickly as you want’; clematis for grounding – ‘if your head’s up in the clouds, you’re daydreaming, you can’t focus’; white chestnut for insomnia, repetitive thoughts and an overactive mind; and mimulus for anxiety around ageing. “Around that time you might be looking after family members, worrying about them, so you might look at red chestnut for that. Cherry plum is for [when] you feel like you’re going to lose control, you’re completely at the end of your tether. Mustard … is for low mood – dark clouds descend on you out of nowhere and there’s no real reason behind it, but you just keep going in and out of this real dark depression. Honeysuckle – if you’re stuck in the past. Larch – if you’re lacking confidence. Wild Oat – if you’re looking for a new direction or purpose in life but not sure what.”

Edwards says that depending on what the individual is going through, up to seven flower remedies are combined into one essence – any more would ‘cloud the issue’ – and with each remedy she mixes, there is real intention behind it: “When I’m making up the remedies, I think about the people who are ordering them and I like to say a little good luck message through the bottle. I think about what kind of scenario they may be going through. They are based on the principle of energy – the energy of the flowers flows through to the remedy and flows through to you.”

Getting behind GenM
Although change has been slow, mentions of menopause are becoming more commonplace in mainstream media, with adverts punctuating TV schedules and a stronger drive for wider awareness via campaigns such as HealthyDoesMenopause from the HFMA, and GenM – an initiative which unites businesses to better support the UK’s 15.5 million menopausal and perimenopausal women. 

GenM now has the backing of several industry names, including Holland & Barrett (which has given special training to its 4,500 employees to recognize and treat signs of menopause) and HotTea Mama which has blended a special infusion called Take a Pause to help women through the ‘tough menopause transition’. Bethan Thomas, co-founder of the tea brand, comments: “Our purpose is to support women’s wellness at various stages in their reproductive lives, one cup of tea at a time. So, when GenM approached us to join their mission and commit to improving the menopause experience, we jumped at the opportunity to become a voice for change in this space. 

“The natural herbs in our menopause tea have been used for millennia to support some of the most common menopausal symptoms. We also recognize the need to spread awareness and educate all sections of society on just how this life stage affects people. By doing this, we can change perceptions about the menopause and help millions of women and others to lead healthier, happier lives.”


Bio-Kult Pro-Cyan & Bio-Kult Candéa 

Bio-Kult | ADM Protexin Ltd
Tel: 01460 243230
E-mail:  [email protected]

Bio-Kult Pro-Cyan is an advanced multi-action formulation containing cranberry extract and two specifically selected strains of live bacteria. Pro-Cyan also contains vitamin A, which contributes to the normal function of the immune system and the maintenance of mucous membranes which can be found lining the urinary tract. Bio-Kult Candéa is a scientifically developed multi-action formulation with seven strains of live bacterial cultures alongside garlic and grapefruit extract both of which are well known for their naturally powerful properties. Bio-Kult bacteria strains have been proven to survive high stomach acidity, do not need to be refrigerated and are suitable for vegetarians.


Live Brighter with D-Mannose with CranActin

E-mail: [email protected]

Urinary tract infections (UTI) caused by invading bacteria are 10 times more common in women than in men. Solaray’s Special Formula D-Mannose with CranActin is a powerful one-two punch to help restore healthy urinary tract function. Simple sugar, D-Mannose, attracts bacteria and secretes it out of the body, while CranActin inhibits the ability of bacteria to adhere to the inner surfaces of the urinary tract and avoid being eliminated. Its vegan capsules provide fast-acting relief from the symptoms of UTIs and promote recovery – allowing you to live brighter. For more information about Solaray contact Natural Trade Brokers. solaray.co.uk


Nature’s Defender 

Bee Health Propolis
Tel: 0800 7316006
E-mail:  [email protected]

Propolis is a natural substance collected by honey bees from buds and trees containing tree resin, essential oils, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Propolis offers an array of benefits for many ailments and allergies and is one of nature’s richest sources of bioflavonoids for immune support.
Bee Health guarantees the bioflavonoids present are naturally occurring flavonoids, with no synthetic substances added. This unique natural product is made in the UK and subject to tests for potency and quality.  Available as tablets, capsules, liquids, cream, throat spray and lozenges.


Good Guru Organic Women Multivitamin

The Good Guru
Tel: 020 8773 7830

Good Guru Women’s Organic MultVitamins supplement to help provide women’s essential daily nutrients. As per various research studies, the ingredients Organic Moringa boosts your metabolism. Organic Shatavari Root supports menopausal symptoms and is the best source of Vitamin K. Organic Turmeric improves memory.
Organic Amla promotes a healthy and regular menstrual cycle. Organic Tulsi has linolenic acid which is extremely beneficial for the skin. Organic Fenugreek may also reduce cholesterol levels. Organic Spirulina has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Organic Rose Hips may fight skin ageing. Organic Gotu Kola may help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.



HealthAid Ltd, HealthAid House
Tel: 020 8426 3400
E-mail: [email protected]

Take the misery out of menopause – One the most challenging stages of a woman’s life is the menopause, levels of female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone begin to fall during this time. This can cause unpleasant symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, irritability, mood swings and depression. MenoVital® is one of the most comprehensive Menopause products on the market. It consists of: 16 essential ingredients including: Soy Isoflavones, Flaxseed, Siberian Ginseng extract and Starflower to help the body maintain overall health and well being during the mid life change.
MenoVital® from HealthAid retails at £13.99 for 60 tablets. Contact HealthAid Ltd on
020 8426 3400 for purchase and stockist information or visit www.healthaid.co.uk   


Sleep Well with Helios

Helios Homeopathy Ltd
Tel: 01892 511555
E-mail:  [email protected]

Disturbed sleep affects many women and especially so during the menopause.  Multi-award winning Helios Sleep contains four homeopathic remedies, Avena sativa, Coffea, Passiflora and Valarian.  These remedies, when combined, have a long history of traditional use to relieve all manner of sleep disturbances, from difficulty getting off to sleep to frequent waking during the night. Being natural Helios Sleep has no known side effects and comes in lactose free, sucrose pills in our easy-to-use single dose dispenser.


Garden of Life Woman’s Once Daily 

Kinetic Natural Products Distributor
Tel: 08450 725 825
E-mail:  [email protected]

One serving of Garden of Life mykind Organics Women’s Once Daily Multi 40+ provides 100% RI of 15 vitamins and minerals. A special blend to support hormone and breast health, with 2400% of your recommended intake of B12 for energy and metabolism and selenium and iodine for thyroid health. Women’s Once Daily (for those under 40) provides perfect support for demanding lifestyles, offering more than 100% of your Recommended Nutrient Intake of 14 vitamins and minerals all in just one organic tablet daily. Certified organic to EU standard, non-GMO project verified with each and every ingredient traceable back to its origin. 


Nature’s Answer Cranberry Alcohol-Free Liquid Herbal Extract

Kinetic Natural Products Distributor
Tel: 08450 725 825
E-mail:  [email protected]

Nature’s Answer Cranberry Extract (Vaccinium macrocarpon) starts with the finest cranberries. Back in the early 1900s researchers discovered that cranberries may play a role in a healthy urinary tract. and it has been estimated that they occur in at least 60% of women at some stage during their lives. Nature’s Answer Alcohol-Free Cranberry Extract is an exceptional way to help keep your urinary tract healthy.* Since it’s a liquid extract, it’s absorbed faster than pills, capsules and softgels. Made from 10,000 mg of fresh cranberries, this highly concentrated extract gives you a full 1,500 mg of the herb in each 2 ml serving.


Lamberts® Premtesse® For women of menstruating age

Lamberts Healthcare Ltd
Tel: : 01892 554313
E-mail:  [email protected]

Lamberts® Premtesse® is a high strength multi-nutrient formula specifically developed for women of menstruating age, both for adverse premenstrual symptoms and as a ‘core’ supplement for other female disorders. It contains 20 nutrients, including vitamin B6 that is known to be of help to menstruating women around the time of their period. Plus, magnesium which practitioners regularly recommend for PMS, PCOS, and perimenopause. B Vitamins are included for their important role in releasing energy from food, chromium for helping to avoid sugar cravings, plus zinc and vitamin C for the immune system, and iron to replace the monthly loss.


Eco-friendly Lamazuna Feminine Cups

Living Planet Distribution
Tel: 020 3176 9982
E-mail:  [email protected]

Introducing Lamazuna’s eco-friendly menstrual cup. Made from high quality, medical grade platinum silicone, the feminine cup can be used for up to 10 years and is discreet, hygienic and cares for the planet by eliminating the need for resource-heavy sanitary products, which end up in landfill. Easy to use and clean, it comes in two sizes and can be left in for up to six hours without the risk of leaking. Like everything Lamazuna makes, it’s packaged with minimalism and reuse in mind, so it comes in its own organic cotton pouch for ease of transport and is available in two sizes.


Natracare Dry & Light

Tel: 01454 613347
E-mail:  [email protected]

Perfect for light urinary incontinence and bladder weakness, Natracare’s Dry & Light incontinence pads are completely free from plastic, dyes, and perfumes.
Offering two different absorbencies, Natracare’s Dry & Light pads will become your trusted go to product. Choose between Dry & Light Slim fitting pads or Dry & Light Plus, for extra cushioning. Each pad is individually wrapped making them easy to carry around when you’re on the go.
Natracare only source sustainable natural materials to make their pads. This means every product you use can return to earth safely and help us all to look after our planet. 


Meno Joy™

New Nordic Ltd
Tel: 0800 3891255
E-mail:  [email protected]

Menopause is a natural stage of life that every woman goes through. Meno Joy provides nutritional support during this period of change. The Meno Joy tablet is based on a combination extract of hops and red clover, which provides a variety of natural isoflavone types. Red clover helps with the typical signs associated with menopause, such as hot flushes, sweating, restlessness and irritability. Meno Joy also includes natural extract of damiana, magnesium, and B-vitamins. Magnesium and B-vitamins contributes to normal function of the nervous system and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. Vitamin B6 further contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity. 


Organyc Organic Cotton Period Pads

Pravera Ltd
Tel: 01557 870203
E-mail:  [email protected]

Sleep worry free all night long with the Organyc Period Pads. They are made with 100% certified organic cotton and a highly absorbent 100% organic cotton internal core to provide maximum protection for a heavy flow or during the night.  They are ultra-soft against sensitive skin, are breathable and anatomically designed with protective wings that adapt to the contours of your body and provide leak protection. They DO NOT contain chlorine bleach, synthetic perfumes, SAP, plastics, or man-made materials. You can always Expect Respect from Organyc, the one brand that respects the body, respects the skin, and respects the Earth. It’s what we deserve.  


Hydrating Portable Humidifier 

Peep Club
Tel: 07944 874195
E-mail: [email protected]

The perfect addition to a bedside table, home office or back-to-work desk; this beautiful bottle-shaped humidifier is designed to help keep your eyes and skin hydrated whether they’re open or closed. The gentle mist, works to replace moisture in the air around your bed or workspace; this combats the drying conditions of modern homes and work places (central heating, air conditioning and screens). Many of us also don’t fully close our eyes especially during sleep, waking up with that dry, gritty, itchy feeling – this humidifier can help keep the exposed eye surface hydrated overnight.


Yogi Tea® Women’s Energy

Yogi Tea distributed by Euro Food Brands
Tel: 01604 821200
E-mail: [email protected]

Perseverance and high energy levels are qualities that are required more of some people than of others. The good news is that everything you require is already within you! Enlivened by fruity hibiscus, liquorice, and raspberry leaves – used in naturopathy to ease cramp and help with menstruation-related complaints – YOGI TEA® Women’s Energy stimulates your inner sources and helps you recharge your batteries. The tea for everyone making a difference out there!
For a perfect brew, pour 250ml of freshly boiled water over the teabag and allow to infuse for 7 minutes – or longer for a stronger flavour.