Woman with heating pad

It's estimated up to 20 per cent of woman have menstrual cramps severe enough to interfere with daily activities. (Shutterstock)

The idea women should be paid menstrual leave has resurfaced after a British gynecologist suggested it could boost productivity.

The Daily Mail Online reported earlier this week that Dr. Gedis Grudzinskas believes monthly menstrual leave should be offered to workers worldwide.

"Some women feel really grotty when menstruating. Coming into work is a struggle and they feel lousy," the professor of obstetrics and gynecology told the newspaper.

"When you feel like that, it's harder to take pride in your work or perform as well. This is about employers being sensible and aware."

The history of menstrual leave dates back to Japan after the Second World War, researcher Alice Dan told the Atlantic.
Women in Taiwan, South Korea and Indonesia are also entitled to menstrual leave, the magazine said.

In 2010, the Toronto Observer reported that Yara Doleh, a researcher and archeologist, proposed an optional menstrual leave in Canada.

In medical terms, painful menstrual cramps of uterine origin are known as dysmenorrhea. A 2012 article in American Family Physician estimated it may be severe enough to interfere with daily activities in up to 20 per cent of women.

Similarly, a 2005 study of 2,721 Canadian women suggested 17 per cent reported missing school or work because of dysmenorrhea.