Apr 2021

Working With Endometriosis

  • By: Samantha Denäe

Living with Endometriosis while working a full-time or part-time job especially when you have to physically be there is difficult to say the least. As we know all too well, Endometriosis plagues our daily activities causing us to be confined to the bed more times than not. When we think of Endo and the long-term effects that it has on our lives, we typically forget to think about our lives in the workplace. 

Since the beginning of my time as a worker bee, my period has always caused me to miss days in the workplace. Most times, I try to work through the pain, but that does not always happen. With women who have severe Endometriosis, the time spent away from work can be more than usual and can cause an added amount of stress on how you are going to be able to work efficiently and consistently enough to keep your life going. When I was 24 and began working my first adult job, I was afraid I would be eventually fired because I knew I would need at least two days a month off for my period. During the first week on the job, my period started, and my manager caught me leaving the bathroom after vomiting. I looked sick. I had almost made it through the entire day running back and forth from my desk to the bathroom, unscathed, and when she caught me, I was so embarrassed and knew that my time working for that company would end soon based off of this situation. 

That was my biggest fear when it came time to enter the real world of having a career: who was going to allow me to work at their business knowing I was too sick to work and would need time off every month? That’s unheard of. I knew nothing about FMLA at the time and it was not offered to me once my job knew of my period issues and eventually my Endometriosis diagnosis.

These are constant worries that women who live with Endometriosis go through: employment presenteeism and/or employment absenteeism. Employment presenteeism is when a person is at their place of work, but their productivity declines. Employment absenteeism is when a person has to miss work altogether, and for us, most times it’s the latter. Although we have FMLA, not every employer offers it. There’s the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and while the law has been extended to cover most physical ailments (by definition Endometriosis would fall into the category), there are still loopholes where an employee with Endometriosis can be discriminated against. 

So, what do we do? It would be nice if there was a mandate or law that would allow women to take off of work with no penalties when sick, and there are places working on that or have made strides, but it needs to be recognized everywhere. Women with reproductive and period issues suffer and we’re really left with no choice but to keep moving, and that’s a hard task within itself let alone adding the pressures of completing and doing a great job in your job.

It’s hard being comfortable enough to be transparent with your employer, especially if they’re male, because we often times feel as though what we go through won’t be understood or empathized with. We feel alone and yet still have to make a living for ourselves and family if we have one to take care of and depends on us. It’s a constant reminder that Endo not only affects our home lives, mental health, and relationships, but it also affects our lives as career women and who we always thought we’d be in that realm.


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