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Endometriosis UK
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Lack of empathy at work

One of the things about endometriosis or just women in general that really bugs me is that as women we are our own worst enemy. Women seem to put other women down more than men do. I've always had it with GPs, male doctors seem to be more sympathetic whereas female doctors say things like "you wish you had it" or you're just fat or you're depressed it's just period pain.

But now I have it at work. I could over hear my manager and a colleague slagging off another member of staff for having time off and surgery for endometriosis. I'm sure my colleague said that she had had it but 'just had a hysterectomy and got over myself'. Up to now I have had a male manager who was somewhat sympathetic but would rather not talk about it, perfect. Now it's changed and I'm worried about the next time I have an issue. I understand that many women with this condition have little to no pain regardless of how advanced it is but that some women have a tiny bit and they are in agony on a daily basis. Why can't she see that and have some respect and empathy? As it happens, I have an advanced case where it is embedded in my internal organs which I find agonising not long after surgery. I don't want to be the joke at my work if I'm unable to come in. Should I lay down some ground work now? Plus I am getting seriously fed up of having to discuss something so personal over and over as they change managers every 2 minutes. Any ideas? I hated it when I was going through the menopause at a different store and the menopausal women and other staff said I was stupid and dramatic when I only asked for the aircon to go on! Xxx

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I have similar concerns about this, fortunately my line manager is female but seems to be non-judgemental and understanding so far. I chat to her about the situation every so often as she needs to be kept in the loop in case of further surgery and it impacts on staffing,

I wish I could say the same about another colleague who made comments along the lines of why did I have to have three weeks off work to have my appendix out when her husband had only needed one. I was so angry. For a start I this person is not my friend and even if she was a friend, why would you ask anything so personal...She also asked me if I was going to start a family. Just point blank. Logic makes me think, she's just very blunt and rude. Anyway I ended up getting quite cross with this person after several negative and invasive comments and I regret this, not because she didn't deserve it but I ended up exposing myself as being emotional over the op etc.

It's a difficult situation to be in and I agree, some women are the worst, people don't know what its like until they have a health issue and endo is a particularly difficult and cyclic disease, so even harder to deal with.

I think the best way of dealing with it is, if possible to give limited factual information. This seems to be the best way of dealing with it.

Its a hard situation and one I'm struggling with, as I am trying to schedule my next surgery into holiday time in order to make it less of an issue for everyone. I am hoping that this will make it less public but part of me is feeling this is very unfair on me, as I need my holidays to rest at the moment and that I am unlikely to recover from the op in two weeks, so I feel very pressured about that.

I hope you manage to deal with this situation. xx

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My partner asked me yesterday if there's any reason women with endo can't apply for DLA. We live with a chronic problem that is hard to diagnose, but once we're diagnosed we are pretty much strapped with that diagnosis for the rest of our lives. We're not always unable to work, and if all of you are anything like me you have no intention of living your life on disability, but we all do have time when we are seeking help with our diagnosis because we are disabled by pain, the wait for medical intervention is long and we can't offer our employers any guarantee that we'll be able to fulfil our job function during these times. Seems reasonable to me, but I know absolutely nothing about benefits regarding ability to actually work. For me, unless I change jobs completely to something where I'm not required to stand about all day and deal with the public, my job life might be in a world of trouble. And even a desk job might at times be a difficulty...

Just putting it out there.

My heart goes out to you, ladies. I hope there's clear answers for you x


Agreed. This condition is potentially life and career changing. I'm certainly questioning if I wish to continue in my job as its exhausting. However I am someone who needs to work, especially with this condition as it keeps my brain occupied. But I am certainly planning my finances to cushion a move to part time/less well paid work in the future and making sure that my insurance is in place.

I guess I'll see how it goes. But I'm finding it much harder as my endo seems to have got a lot worse in the last year due to coming off the pill.

I've read people's posts on her about getting sickness benefits for endo, but I think the process is quite lengthy. I hope I can manage without that, but it should be there for us if needed.

Thanks for your reply.


Hi, I am on sickness benefit and the benefit office was really helpful. My gp signed me off for 2 months as I'm awaiting major surgery. I also agree that we should be entitled to DLA. Xx


Thanks for the reply Victoria. So how has it been managed, ifs that's not too personal? Does it work so you have full pay and then a sickness payment?

My situation is complicated by having a fixed term contract. Within that I get a certain amount of time off allowed for sickness and further time of hospitalisation is required. It should be ok but I'm concerned about job applications in the future, sickness time etc. In the past this hasn't impacted on work massively, just the odd day off sick like most people. I used to time my periods to hit the worst days at the weekend and with tricycling it was manageable. It's getting to a point where it isn't manageable for me. Hope your op goes well.


Hi starstella, unfortunately my situation is different to yours. My last boss(female) fired me over the phone whilst I was miscarrying at 11 weeks. I had to have emergency larparoscopy due to incomplete miscarriage and was diagnosed with stage 4 rectroviginal endo and adenmyosis. My consultant said my endo was very severe. My gp agreed that I wasn't fit to work until after my next surgery. Thus me having benefits. Have a look at your employment contract and speak to hr about their sickness policy. All the best xx


Omg Vikki! You poor thing that's horrific! Hope you got that bitch! Hope you get to your next surgery and everything improves for you in general. All the best my lovely xxxx


Thank you both :-) words fail me where my ex boss is.concerned I would never treat anyone in such a heartless and disgusting way. I'm having my mri.scan on Tuesday so fingers crossed xx


That's dreadful treatment from your former employer. I'm very sorry.

Thanks for your advice. It just makes us all feel so vulnerable in lots of ways. Hope your op improves matters for you.



I would give the boss an informationsheet taken from internet about the symtpoms, and pain that endo gives. Leave the same informationsheet in the coffeeroom at work, so people can read.

I gave my new GP a printout from internet re NHS guidelines for severeendometriosis and the bsge centres, and all the muiltiteam aspect there. If you do this, they will understand.

Yes, my male GP was very sensitive and understanding. A male who in 3 minutes without knowing me wrote an endo referral to a hospital whith a bad doc.

I was met with its too risky with lap surgery.

When docs say "its norrmaall"! - I bring a printout from research on internet saying something else.

I would sit down and talk with the boss and explain without moaning.

wish u well!


I would hint at how endometriosis can be considered a disability and therefore under the Equality Act 2010 (not to mention the Disability Discrimination Act 2005) such are protected....that might help reduce the nastiness...!!

Seriously it is difficult and I think there will always be a proportion of people (work and socially) who consider it as an excuse for 'periods' or 'sick' when they really have no clue. I was confronted with this once by a woman who had a period every 25 days without fail lasting four days and only had to take aspirin so when she said to me 'how bad could it possibly be' I replied: "well, it is similar to having a hot poker jammed up through your uterus and jiggled about and once it was so bad [and this is true] I broke the doctor's hand who was trying to hold it whilst administering morphine..." That seemed to do the trick...!

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