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Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) can be very debilitating. Some women can experience extreme emotions such as depression, aggression, tiredness, irritability and bloatedness.

Changes in the levels of progesterone and oestrogen can cause headaches. According to The National Association for Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (NAPMS) one woman in three will regularly experience PMS symptoms and 1 in 20 has symptoms of severe PMS.

There is a lack of research on the menstrual cycle relating to the exposure to hazards at work. However, the research suggests a number of factors can be associated with menstrual disorders. These include strenuous physical work, demanding work, stressful work, exposure to environmental noise, hot and cold working conditions.


Tiredness, irritability, weepiness, lack of concentration, sore and tender breasts, feeling bloated and back ache are the main symptoms of PMS. Some women may also experience severe cramping pains, sometimes accompanied by nausea and diarrhoea.

To alleviate the symptoms eat calcium rich diet, reduce salt intake, and increase Potassium (found naturally in bananas, oranges, figs and tomatoes). Eat less meat and more fruit and vegetables. Increase oxygen flow with exercise and deep breathing. Heat often helps, try a hot bath or hot water bottle. Also take vitamin supplements such as vitamin B6 and evening primrose oil.

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)

TSS is a rare but potentially fatal illness that affects women. It is caused where normally harmless bacteria, commonly found in the nose, armpit, groin or vagina suddenly produce toxins, and it is associated with women using tampons.The symptoms include sudden high temperature, vomiting, a rapid pulse, fluid loss, sore throat, aching muscles, skin rash, dizziness, headaches and confusion.

Best Practice:

  • Raise awareness of the risks in the workplace.
  • Improvements in workplace facilities particularly for the disposal of sanitary items.
  • The development of workplace guidelines for PMS sufferers.
  • Nomination of a designated person (preferably a woman) to provide advice and support.
  • Conduct a review of sickness and absent management procedures and suggest modifying the trigger levels for sickness absence procedures to take account of PMS.
  • Contact local Federation and Union reps.

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