Just when you think we've made strides in tackling period stigma, we find out that more than two-thirds of women in the UK have bad experiences at work due to menstruation.
In a survey, of more than 2,000 women, by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), 69% said period symptoms have affected their ability to do their job.
More than half (53%) of women who experienced difficult side effects said they have had to miss work, with one in five taking sick leave.
Around half of employees polled said they never told their manager the absence was related to their menstrual cycle for embarrassment or fear that their symptoms would be trivialised.
The kinds of effects people experience are varied, but include feeling more tired (79%), working when they haven’t felt well enough to do so (61%) and feeling less able to concentrate (63%
The findings follow a further report, which found that girls are missing more school or college days due to periods than any other reason – including colds, mental health or truancy.
Despite the introduction of period equality measures in recent years, to improve access to free sanitary products in education settings, periods are causing girls to be absent from school or college for three days a term on average, compared with colds and flu (2.6 days), mental health (1.9 days) and truancy (1.2 days).
This tots up to 54 lost education days over the course of their teen years, the equivalent of 11 whole academic weeks.
The findings are part of phs Group’s Period Equality: Breaking the Cycle report, for which Censuswide polled 1,262 girls aged 13-18 years across the UK.
The majority (82%) of the girls polled cited cramps as the main reason for skipping school due to menstruation, while almost one in five (19%) said they are absent from lessons because they’re embarrassed about being on their period, and one in 12 (8%) said it’s because no period products were available to them.
Too embarrassed to talk about periods
As well as periods physically having an impact on the lives of teenage girls, it seems parents are also still finding it awkward discussing menstruation, with recent research revealing that almost half say discussing the subject makes them feel uncomfortable.
That's something echoed among teachers, with a third admitting to finding period conversations with their students difficult, according to the study, by Always.
As hinted by CIPD's research period stigma is very much present in the workplace too with a third of men believing it’s "unprofessional" for women to talk about menstruation in the workplace.
Initial Washroom Hygiene surveyed 2000 office workers about all things toilet talk and the results offered some sad proof that talking about periods is still very much taboo.
Read more: What is PMDD? Vicky Pattison diagnosed with condition after 'feeling insane' for years (Yahoo Life UK, 4-min read)
Further research, by the charity WaterAid, found that despite being a normal and vital part of most women’s lives, nearly two thirds (63%) admit to feeling embarrassed talking about their periods at work.
Proving that hiding a tampon up the sleeve is still very much a thing, nearly half (48%) say the conceal products on route to the toilet, and 46% saying they have avoided light-coloured work outfits when on their period.
Only 3% believe employers are doing enough to support women and people who menstruate to manage their periods at work, while 80% feel that they are held back to some extent by attitudes to periods in their workplace.
Watch: One in five schoolgirls 'in period poverty'
So what's causing this ongoing shyness about periods?
"Period shame is unfortunately deep-seated in our society," explains Dr Shirin Lakhani, cosmetic doctor and intimate health specialist.
"Despite the fact that we live in a digital age in which we have constant access to information at the press of a button, there is still a huge stigma surrounding the issue of period poverty."
Dr Lakhani says menstruation embarrassment is perpetuated by cultural taboos, lack of education and period poverty.
"These stigmas start at an early age and often subconsciously when we see our mother’s hiding their box of sanitary products in the bathroom, at school when girls are taught about periods but boys often aren’t, and as we go through life sneaking out with a tampon up our sleeve when we need to go to the loo to change it."
Read more: Over half of women say period pain has impacted their ability to work (Yahoo Life UK, 3-min read)
There are some other reasons we're still not talking about our periods.
“Historically, even mentioning periods on TV has been unpredictable," explains Ruby Raut, CEO and co-founder of WUKA. "Period products were only allowed to be advertised for the first time in 1972, and until 1985 you weren’t allowed to even say the word period."
Though there has been significant progress in the last five years in the menstrual education sector such as blue liquid being swapped for red blood on TV ads, Raut says we still have a long way to go."
So how do we get there?
In order to move forward Dr Lakhani says we need to start thinking about encouraging the next generation to view periods as a natural process rather than something that we shouldn’t talk about.
"This will help to break the taboo," she explains. "As will teaching boys the exact same things as girls at school, and of not being afraid to talk about it openly and factually when questioned by children."
Raut agrees that breaking the stigma around period care requires ongoing efforts, starting with education.
"If we are to successfully dispel myths and normalise conversations about women’s health issues in the media and workplaces, we must ensure adequate menstrual health education in schools is delivered to all children.
"Menstruation is natural and nothing to be ashamed of. Teaching about the menstrual cycle should include girls and boys emphasising the fact that it is nothing to be embarrassed about."
We also need to talk openly about periods and make it a normal conversation about a normal every day experience.
"We need to say the word ‘period’ without shame and without prejudice, talking about it openly helps normalise the conversation about a normal every day experience," adds Raut. "We need to be inclusive and challenge those who aren’t."
Additional reporting SWNS.