top of page

Endometriosis: how to offer support in the workplace?

Endometriosis is a gynaecological condition that globally affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age and those assigned female at birth. [1]

The main symptom is chronic pelvic pain that can have a detrimental impact on most, if not all, areas of someone's life, including work. Persisting stigma, poor understanding, and discomfort discussing menstrual and reproductive health can make it very difficult for those suffering with endometriosis to talk about it with an employer, particularly in male-dominated spaces. It is vital that employers understand this common condition and are well-equipped to support employees in order to build trust, create open and forward-thinking workplaces, and avoid accusations of discrimination and bias.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and Fallopian tubes. Despite growing outside of the uterus, this tissue responds to the menstrual cycle each month and bleeds. This blood has no way to escape and this can cause inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissue [2]. It is a long-term condition and can affect women of any reproductive age.

Symptoms of endometriosis vary both in type and severity. The main symptoms include:

  • Pelvic pain which worsens during menstruation.

  • Pain during or after sex.

  • Severe period pain that prevents you from carrying out daily activities.

  • Difficulty conceiving, or infertility.

  • Heavy periods.

  • Fatigue and tiredness from heavy bleeding and anaemia.

  • Painful urination and/or bowel movements during menstruation.

  • Other gastrointestinal problems including diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, nausea.

Despite it being a relatively common, and potentially debilitating, condition, investment in research on endometriosis is relatively low compared to conditions such as diabetes and getting a diagnosis is notoriously difficult. The challenges of dealing with physical