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Opinion: Being on your period should be considered an excused absence

Students should be allowed to miss class without penalty when they're on their period

Saso, Feb 2, period.jpg

"People who menstruate shouldn't be penalized for missing class on their periods." Illustration published on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019.

One week out of each month, about half of the population has to deal with an involuntary disruption to their mood and various other mental and physical symptoms, least of which is uncontrollable bleeding. 

Unlike how it is described in puberty books, getting your period is not a magical transition to adulthood; it is inconvenient at best and causes incapacitating pain at worst. 

During "that time of the month," attending class can be a seemingly impossible request for some, and being on your period is not generally considered an excused absence in college.

According to the Society of Menstrual Cycle Research, “nearly 44 percent of the girls cited cramping as the reason they couldn’t make it to school while they were menstruating.”

John Guillebaud, a professor of reproductive health at the University College London, told Quartz that some patients describe menstrual cramps as being “almost as bad as having a heart attack.”

Many students can relate to the crippling pain of cramps. Oftentimes, it is even hard for some to sit up in bed from this pain, let alone walk 20 minutes to class, sit in a lecture for two hours and then walk back.

Besides the expected symptoms of cramping, acne and fatigue, those on their period can also experience vomiting, fainting, cysts and extreme migraines among other symptoms. 

It's unrealistic to expect students to provide a doctors note in order to be excused from class every time they experience these symptoms, especially students who don't have insurance.

Because of this, the University should officially accept a student being on their periods as a valid excuse for missing class with no penalty to the students. 

Christina Fankhanel, a sophomore studying journalism, said that it is unfair that students are penalized for missing school on their periods despite to the harsh symptoms they have to endure. 

“These symptoms are common among girls,” Fankhanel said. “If the causes of the symptoms were a sickness, such as the flu, it would be a valid excuse in the eyes of the professor even though periods can be just as debilitating.”

Symptoms can be even worse for those who suffer from disorders like polycystic ovarian syndrome or endometriosis and/or mental illnesses like anxiety and depression, which can be heightened during a menstrual cycle.

According to Everyday Health, “Some women who have a diagnosed anxiety disorder may notice even more severe anxiety during their periods than at other times during the month.”

Periods are as much of an excuse to miss class as any other sickness, and professors should let their menstruating students miss class when needed without penalty. 

Reach the columnist at and follow @paytonsaso on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the authors’ and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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