For many women with endometriosis, severe pain stands between them and their professional lives. Pain, nausea, and other symptoms can force women to stay home from their jobs. Long hours, stress, and uncomfortable working environments can also aggravate endo symptoms.
So many members of MyEndometriosisTeam have struggled to get through the work day because of their symptoms. “I have an executive job running a large company, and some days I just want to sit under my desk in my office and cry from the pain,” one member wrote. “It’s so hard to be switched on when I feel like this.”
“I sit at my desk with hot water bottles and pain medication,” another member shared. “Every day I get home and cry because I love my job, and I’m so scared that I'll have to give it up.”
Sometimes the pain from endo is too much, and women have to use sick days. “I had to leave work this morning because my pain was so bad I was throwing up,” a member wrote. Many women worry that taking too many sick days will jeopardize their employment. The same member wrote, “I’m now at home with my heating pad on and worrying about my job!”
Another MyEndometriosisTeam member commented, “My sick time and vacation time at work are both running low due to medical purposes. I do not want to lose my job.”
While there are legal protections in the United States and in many other countries for people with medical conditions, some members have lost their jobs because of missed work. “I got let go from my job because of my attendance,” a member reported. “My endo has been really bad and my GI issues just keep getting worse, which resulted in many days off work.”
Several MyEndometriosisTeam members opt to work part-time. “I can no longer work a full-time job now,” one member wrote. My boss had me working five days at least seven hours a day. I told her I can't do this. She's understanding so she said she'll cut me down to three days.”
Many MyEndometriosisTeam members would like to work fewer hours but can’t afford to lessen their workload. “Reducing my hours would be ideal but it’s not possible financially at the moment,” a member shared.
Some members are able to arrange flexible working schedules. “I was just approved for Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) at my work, so that I can take one to five days off a month when the pain gets too bad without penalty at my job. I am ecstatic!” said one MyEndometriosisTeam member.
A veterinary nurse arranged alternate job activities for days when her endometriosis pain is more intense. “The people I work with are great,” she wrote. “They’re happy to switch shifts so I can do a less physical role that day.”
Unfortunately, not every woman has a sensitive boss or a flexible workplace. “My coworkers aren’t very sympathetic AT ALL and one of the managers likes to give me lots of jobs at once. It’s like he enjoys seeing me suffer,” wrote a MyEndometriosisTeam member who works long hours on her feet.
Severe endometriosis symptoms lead some women to switch jobs. “I quit my job today,” a member wrote. “Between the physical stress and mental stress I couldn't do it anymore. I got a new job. It pays a lot less but it also comes with less stress, so that's great!”
Another member on MyEndometriosisTeam shared that an understanding supervisor is her top priority when seeking new employment: “I’m looking for another job because I need to work for a company that will be sensitive to my pain and work with me.”
On MyEndometriosisTeam, the social network and online support group for women living with endometriosis, members talk about a range of personal experiences and struggles. Working while having endometriosis is one of the most discussed topics.
Here are some conversations about working and endometriosis:
Here is a question-and-answer thread about working and endometriosis:
Can you relate? How do you manage work responsibilities and endometriosis? Share your experiences on MyEndometriosisTeam or in the comments below.