Part of being a woman is learning to live with monthly menstruation. It’s something women adapt to in their early teenage years, but it isn’t always easy.

Menstruation doesn’t effect all women the same way, and it doesn’t effect all women the same way every month. Sometimes, it may be completely or almost pain free, but other times, the pain can be so severe that it’s temporarily debilitating.

Sure, there are pain relievers, but sometimes the pain can be so severe women experience other symptoms including headaches, diarrhea and even fever. When women suffer from this type of severe menstrual pain it is know as dysmenorrhea.

Imagine having a fever, headache, diarrhea and pain in your stomach area that just won’t quit. Imagine having to go to work with those symptoms. It sounds impossible, but sometimes women have to do just that, go to work in extreme pain. If the pain were associated with another illness, it would be normal to call in sick, but when it’s related to a woman’s menstrual cycle, it’s not exactly an illness.

Some countries have decided to allow women to take menstrual leave when they are suffering from severe period pains. These countries include Indonesia, Japan and South Korea. Currently, there aren’t any western countries that offer menstrual leave, but that is about to change.

Spain is set to become the very first western country to offer menstrual leave. The leave would allow women who are suffering from extreme period pains to take up to three days off work each month. The Spanish government is expected to approve this measure next week.

In addition to providing women with the ability to take menstrual leave, the measure would also provide women with access to free feminine hygiene products. Ángela Rodríguez, the Secretary of State for Equality and against Gender Violence, explained, “One in four women cannot choose the feminine hygiene products she wants to buy for financial reasons. That is why we propose that they can be dispensed free of charge in educational and social centers.”

If the measure passes, schools in Spain would be required to provide free sanitary pads to students who need them.

Have you ever suffered from extreme period pains? Do you think other western countries should approve menstrual leave for women who have severe period pains? Have you ever called in sick to work because of dysmenorrhea? Do you know anyone who has?