Woman Uses Hot Water Bottle For Period Pain But HR Sends Her Home For ‘Unprofessional’ Behavior

by Kate Taylor
Kate is a writer who laughs at her own jokes and likes to pour too much hot sauce on her food.

There are plenty of things that women have to put up with that men cannot even begin to understand.

Some of these things are voluntary, like shaving our legs or stressing out about what to wear. However, there are some things, that we as women, simply cannot help — like our periods.

Although a woman’s period is totally natural, many men consider it a totally taboo topic.

Of course, this stereotype doesn’t apply to all men, and certainly not the one who knows his wifes “period outfit,” but discussing any technicalities of that time of the month is still widely frowned upon by plenty of folks.

Most women aren’t in a hurry to talk periods either, but, if pressed, we aren’t going to pretend they don’t exist.

That’s exactly where one woman ran into trouble.  She recently posted to mumsnet under the user name Snuffalo and shared her story about how she tried to quietly treat her period cramps at work, but a male coworker insisted on knowing the details, and ended up reporting her to management. Scroll through to learn what happened.

Having your period can be an unpleasant experience.

With that said, those of us who suffer from cramps have probably learned how to deal with them by now, and don’t let it get in the way of the important things like work.

Snuffalo is amongst these women who doesn’t let her period pains stop her from performing in the workplace.


She explains in a post on mumsnet:

Having horrible menstrual cramps, naproxen isn’t touching it, and I remember I have a hot water bottle in my desk drawer – I used it all winter in my freezing office, and a few other people, male and female, have one as well – we have a rule against personal space heaters so it can be nice to have under your desk next to your feet.

Anyway. I fill the hot water bottle, nestle it in my lap, and I’m back to work.

My sort-of-supervisor* we’ll call Guy comes over to talk to me about something, notices the hot water bottle, says “there’s no way you’re cold today, are you?” I say “um, no, just for the pain relief”. He looks confused and then literally horrified and then he walks away. 

Less than ten minutes later, I get a Slack message from one of the HR admins (HR is based in another office a few hours away) to say “Guy says you’re not well and should go home, everything OK?”

I say “I’m fine, this is sort of weird, he just looked a bit shocked that I had a hot water bottle, I’ve got cramps, you know how it is.”

She goes silent and then offline completely, ten more minutes later, the HR Director calls me and asks me if I can find a meeting room, which I do.

 She then tells me that I shouldn’t disclose my medical problems to anyone who isn’t part of HR as it can make them uncomfortable. I’m literally shocked, I explain exactly what happened, she says “yes I understand, if you’re so unwell you need a hot water bottle you should be home, Guy is extremely uncomfortable and it’s unprofessional”.

I say “this is weird, ok, anything else”? She’s quite breezy and professional – “No, that’s all, if you’re feeling better that’s great but if you need to, please do go home, OK bye!”

I’m just completely flabbergasted. Especially considering that Guy has been known to take meetings with clients whilst laying flat on the floor on his back because of back problems – which seems to me both unprofessional and likely to make people uncomfortable, not that I really cared personally. I wouldn’t have had my hot water bottle in a client meeting or even if clients were in the office.

Other people have standing desks, weird foot rests, all kinds of chairs and special backrests for their back pain and wrist braces for their wrist pain and a hundred other things and I’m not allowed to have a hot water bottle for my menstrual cramps? Am I right to be completely [expletive]  furious?


We have to agree with Snuffalo; it’s a pretty weird situation to be in. It’s not like she was trying to inconvenience anyone with her period, and she even tried to stay discreet about her cramp treatment.

It’s also not her fault that her coworker kept asking questions, or that he’s so uncomfortable with periods.

Periods happen, and there’s not a heck of lot any of us can do about it.


What do you think, is it unprofessional to use a hot water bottle for period pain at work?

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