Female civil servants in India are complaining about new appraisal rules that ask them to reveal details of their menstrual cycle, a move they say reveals gender insensitivity at the top tiers of the country's bureaucracy.

The All-India Services Performance Appraisal Rules 2007 asks women to write down their "detailed menstrual history and history of LMP (last menstrual period)." It also asks for the "date of last confinement (maternity leave)."

In India's civil service, annual appraisals and health checks are mandatory.

The appraisal form was based on guidelines issued by the Health Ministry.

In Maharashtra, women outraged by the appraisal rules are expected to lodge a formal complaint with the federal government's personnel department next week.

The federal health ministry told The Associated Press it had not yet heard any complaints from female civil servants.

"A committee had formulated these new rules. But for every problem there is a solution," said K. Ramchandran, a spokesman for the federal health department. "If things are not proper, another committee will be appointed to re-look at the new appraisal form."

An environment secretary in western Maharashtra told BBC news that she was "completely shocked!"

"I have absolutely no words to describe how I feel and I have no intention of telling them anything about my personal life."

Another civil servant in the western state of Maharashtra's administration department told AP the job appraisal was "insensitive."

"We feel strongly about this," Seema Vyas, told The Associated Press. "What will the government do with this information?" she wondered.

Satyanand Mishra, head of the personnel department, told the Hindustan Times that the queries were based on advice from the Ministry of Health.

"We sought the ministry's help to draw up a health-history format. I assume this will help evaluate the officer's fitness," he said.

Nearly 10 per cent of India's 4,000 civil service bureaucrats are women.

With files from The Associated Press