‘Ouch, that hurts!’: Male French MPs test period pain simulator

The test comes ahead of a parliamentary debate on whether to introduce national ‘menstrual leave’ for workers

All of the male MPs who tried the period pain device struggled to get through a sentence when it kicked in
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Male French MPs have been testing out a device that simulates the feeling of period pain ahead of a parliamentary debate on a new bill that aims to introduce paid ‘menstrual leave’.

In light of the debate, which is scheduled for this week (Wednesday, March 27), MPs Marie-Charlotte Garin and Sébastien Peytavie had the idea to give some male MPs a taste of what menstrual pain can feel like.

Writing on X (formerly Twitter) Mr Peytavie posted a video of the test, and said: “Their conclusion was unanimous [it hurts].

The video shows that as soon as the MPs began using the device, they cried out in pain and asked to stop. They included LFI MPs Louis Boyard and Carlos Martens Bilongo, and Les Républicains MPs Pierre Cordier and Maxime Minot.

Former minister and Renaissance MP Clément Beaune was among those to say: “It’s really horrible, actually.”

The MPs then tried to make a speech, as they might in the debating chamber, while hooked up to the pain machine. None of them could finish their sentences or continue without reacting, as the pain kicked in.

Yet, the video posted by Mr Peytavie claims that 50% of women suffer from period pain so bad that it is ‘incapacitating’, and that for some women, the pain they experience during their period is similar to that one could expect during a heart attack.

‘Periods bring in more money than they would take out’

Following the debate this week, the bill on work menstrual leave - and whether to grant it nationally to people who need it due to painful periods (medical name, ‘dysmenorrhoea’) - is set to be presented to the Assemblée nationale on April 4.

The bill proposes to introduce the right for workers to claim up to 13 days of paid medical menstrual leave per year. A medical certificate would be needed to claim, and the days would be reimbursed by the Assurance maladie (France’s state health service).

So far, the bill has not been popular among some critical MPs, who point out that the Assurance maladie is currently overstretched and is trying to save money.

Read also: Long-term health patients fear reimbursement reforms in France

The new healthcare 2024 budget already provided for reusable sanitary protection (menstrual pants and menstrual cups), which are now reimbursable for women under the age of 26, and all women covered by the Complémentaire santé solidaire scheme.

Read more: What changes in France in 2024 for health and medicine

And in February this year, the Senate rejected a similar bill by 206 votes to 117. That bill would have allowed for up to two sick days per month for painful periods, including those related to the condition endometriosis. It also proposed that medical certificates for the issue would last 12 months.

Read more: Support for ‘promising’ new saliva test for endometriosis in France

Hitting back at the cost argument, proposing MP Ms Garin said that people who menstruate bring in more public money than they would take if this leave were introduced.

She said: "If we were to do the maths on how much women bring in [to the economy] in terms of menstrual health - I'm thinking of the consumption of pads, tampons and products related to menstrual hygiene - with that VAT going into the government's pockets, women bring in more.”

The proposing MPs suggest that on average, a lifetime’s use of menstrual products costs between €8,000 and €23,000 per person, and a cost of €10 to €50 per month.

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