One In Six Women Have Been Fired For Managing Their Endometriosis

The chronic condition reportedly costs Australian society $9.7 billion annually.

Endometriosis Work

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One in six Australian women say they’ve lost their jobs due to managing endometriosis — a disorder more than 830,000 people have experienced at some point in their lifetime.

Endometriosis is where tissue grows on the outside of the uterus and nearby organs, causing pelvic pain, inflammation, cysts, and impacts mental health and fertility, and affects one in nine women and gender diverse people. The chronic condition reportedly costs Australian society $9.7 billion annually between healthcare costs and inability to work.

A joint study by Southern Cross University, Western Sydney University, and Endometriosis Australia spoke with 389 people living with endo about how shifting work practices affected productivity. Alarmingly, 70 percent have also had to take unpaid time off work, and one in three had been passed over for a promotion because of their endo.

“Nearly all women with endometriosis in our study said their endometriosis had a significant impact on their work-life, with nearly two-thirds of women having to take unpaid time off work to manage their endometriosis symptoms,” said senior author Professor Jon Wardle. “Not having flexible arrangements in relation to work times or work locations to manage endometriosis symptoms appropriately creates hardships in the workplace for women with endometriosis, with more than half the women in our study identifying this as a problem.”

There’s a small silver lining: close to 80 percent of participants reported that COVID workplace changes had made managing their endo symptoms easier. However with a slow return back to the workplace, all eyes are on managers and businesses to help accommodate their employees with endo, in what would be a win-win situation.

The study recommended the ability to work from home if needed, flexible time management, brief rest periods, and access to healthcare benefits, services, and aids as vital interventions. Lockdown has shown how flexible working arrangements can help navigate the incredibly painful symptoms without fear of being reprimanded over healthcare in the office.

“The fact that an overwhelming majority of women with endometriosis have benefited from the shift to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic is an important insight,” said Minister for Health Greg Hunt. “I hope that more Australian employers will use this research to help support their employees who may be suffering from this terrible condition, and to help them reach their full potential in the workplace.”