A new report from Public Health England (PHE) highlights how women's reproductive health problems impact the physical, mental, and social well-being of the nation.

 

Researchers combined existing data and a new survey conducted by the PHE to show that women's reproductive health is a public health issue.

 

In the survey, 7,367 women in England were polled and 31 percent reported experiencing severe reproductive health symptoms within the last year.

 

These issues include post-natal depression, infertility, incontinence, menopause, and heavy menstrual bleeding.

 

 

Focus groups conducted as a part of the study showed that these problems prove to especially be an obstacle for women in the workplace.

 

Reproductive health issues can impact their ability to carry out daily tasks on the job. However, women often hide these symptoms from coworkers.

 

As well, the PHE study found that 35 percent of women experience heavy menstrual bleeding, which has been linked to higher unemployment and absence from work in previous research.

 

12 percent of women have missed a day of work because of menopause symptoms, according to existing studies, and 59 percent have lied to their boss about why they took the day off.

 

 

Stigma was found to be a key factor at play for the survey's participants. In fact, less than half of women polled sought help for their symptoms, despite the severity of these issues.

 

The report emphasised how, in general, women would like reproductive health problems to be normalised. This would facilitate open discussion and, where applicable, self-management of these issues.

 

Women especially would like to see this reproductive health support at work.

 

Dr Sue Mann, Public Health Consultant in Reproductive Health, from PHE, said of the study's findings, "Women’s reproductive health concerns can fundamentally influence physical and mental well-being throughout their whole life course.

 

 

"Our research has highlighted that while individual reproductive health issues and concerns change throughout a woman’s life, the feelings of stigmatisation and embarrassment were almost universal.

 

"The report reveals the need for an open and supportive approach in the workplace and in the health system.

 

"We encourage women to seek support from their workplace, and for workplace management to be aware of how reproductive health symptoms can affect women’s daily life."

 

The PHE will work with 18 healthcare bodies to create an integrated cross-governmental five-year action plan that will tackle this public health issue.

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