It appears, in the UK, that due to nosebleeds unisex status (everybody picks their nose) it would be more credible for me to call in with a nosebleed than to call in with cramps. However in Taiwan women are granted three days of menstrual leave annually.
The Atlantic asks: "Do these policies simply further the notion that women are weak, hormonally-addled creatures controlled by their uteri? Or do they encourage more equality by accommodating female workers' biological demands, much as maternity leave does?"
It goes on to note that the West has a different history from parts of Asia when it comes to menstruation. In Japan since around 1947 women have been granted 'seirikyuuka' which translates as physiological leave - this came about mainly because as women began to join the workforce in great numbers the workplaces acknowledged they did not have proper sanitary facilities.
In spite of various laws in Asia frankly discussing the discomfort some women experience during menstruation, apparently many women do not take the designated leave due to embarrassment and fear of being seen as weak by their employers.
Currently our approach to solving menstrual pain is alarmingly iffy.
Women who go to their doctors about heavy and painful periods are given several options, none of which are guaranteed to work, all of which are in some way invasive and come with the risk of making the situation worse. The coil has been known to both cause heavy periods and reduce them. The pill can make women depressed, destroy their libido and cause them to gain weight. The injection can cause constant 'spotting' as well as other complications.
With hormonal treatment once you have started you are encouraged to give it a while for your body to settle with it's new dose of hormones. Once the person undergoing the treatment has established what they already knew - the dose isn't working - they still have to wait for their body to then rebalance hormone-wise. The coil and implant require going back to the clinic to have them removed if they don't work.
Either way people feel they can't discuss periods for fear they will appear weak, dirty or guilty of eeeew, TMI. Whether or not you think people should be granted menstrual leave we should all vote yes to more menstrual discussion.