Chinese province grants women leave for menstrual pain

Story highlights

  • Anhui province introduces new rule to allow women to take leave for severe menstrual pain
  • Experts say it probably wouldn't work for women who need them
  • High-profile women have drawn attention to the problem

Beijing (CNN)Each month, Shao Jinwen's lower abdomen throbs with a familiar, all-consuming pain.

It's a pain she's had to endure each month since she had her first period at age 13.
    When we meet in Starbucks in downtown Beijing on a cheerless, sub-zero winter day, the 24-year-old theater director is looking pale and has four heat pads stuck to her waist to ease the breath-taking cramps.
    Shao Jinwen has suffered from acute menstrual cramps since age 13.
    "I just want to cut that part of my body off completely," she says.
    However, Shao is hopeful Chinese regulations that grant leave to female workers for severe period pain in some provinces will eventually be extended to Beijing.
    Shao says legal recognition of the pain that she suffers every month would mark a step towards "taking menstruation seriously as a women's health issue."

    When cramps enter the public debate

    On Sunday, Anhui province introduced new regulations allowing female workers who suffer severe menstrual pain to take one to two days off every month, after presenting a doctor's certificate.
    Menstrual leave is already provided in Shanxi and Hubei provinces. And a consultation period to introduce the measure in the southern province of Guandong ended on December 3. There's no word yet on when or if it will be passed.
    It's not the first time that paid menstrual leave has been debated in China, and other territories in the region, including Japan, Indonesia and South Korea and Taiwan, already have laws guaranteeing women days off during their periods.
    It's a right unheard of in most Western countries, but more and more high-profile women are drawing attention to the problem.
    Lena Dunham, creator of Girls, shared in writing her struggles with a painful disease associated with menstuation recently.
    Lena Dunham, creator of the hit HBO series Girls, recently opened up about her struggles of living and working with endometriosis -- a painful and little-known disease associated with menstruation, where a tissue lining the uterus grows outside of it -- in an essay e