5 ways to support employees with endometriosis

March 16, 2023

Despite current efforts, female health and menstruation can often feel like a stigmatised subject in a place of work. It is important that we recognise the struggles of those living and working with Endometriosis, which starts with businesses embracing a wider understanding of the condition and how it affects their workforce.

Endometriosis is a condition which can affect anyone born with a female reproductive system, in which the standardly-unbearable symptoms of periods can become chronic and debilitating; not discussed frequently enough and often misunderstood. It is a significantly difficult condition to live with, in which the body produces excess tissue that mimics that of the lining of the womb in areas that it would not – and should not – normally develop. 

With such little discourse around the subject, here are some things you may not realise about Endometriosis:

  • It affects as many as 1 in 10 women around the world.
  • It could affect masc-presenting employees who may still have a female reproductive system.
  • It can cause fertility issues, as well as a range of psychological conditions.
  • While many believe it is incurable, there are a number of medical and surgical options for treatment.
  • While it most commonly presents with painful symptoms, some sufferers may be asymptomatic or have misdiagnosed symptoms and therefore be unaware of it’s presence. 

So, how can it affect the workplace, and what can you do to help as an employer?

  • Flexible working hours:

The pain of Endometriosis can be exhausting, and could cause employees to struggle with standing, walking and travelling, as well as making them lethargic and affecting their concentration, communication and commitment to projects. They might need more time away from the office, and even from home, for regular doctor’s appointments, collecting prescriptions, receiving therapy or downtime for pain management. Be sure to be understanding instead of critical should this happen, and consider offering a more flexible work schedule to accommodate them. This could include a varying timetable in which they can dictate their own hours, as well as supplying them with the equipment to have a desk both in the office and at home. Consider including optional, regular screen-time so that being away from the office doesn’t diminish their face-to-face time with colleagues.

  • Job security and maternity options:

As well as a realm of uncomfortable symptoms, in a more severe case Endometriosis could lead to infertility. For many women, this would come as a huge psychological blow, and if still looking to begin a family it will also become a financial consideration too. This could cause panic when looking at their future within the company. Consider an open discussion about maternity leave and job security, as this will encourage mothers-to-be to feel secure, and meaning worry around this subject would be less likely to affect their work or even move them to leave the company. Make sure maternity information is easily accessible and available from the point of hire. 

As an employer, it is useful to be in a position to support and educate employees, which can include having a rounded understanding of what employees are going through and putting yourself in a position to actively help. Try to remember that the further you go to support your staff, the more loyal a workforce you’ll obtain, which will eventually lead to better retention of staff and a dedicated team.

  • Ensure a compassionate workplace

With such a high number of women suffering with menstrual conditions, it is important to remind employees that they are not alone. It can feel alienating to live with a chronic condition, and you have no idea how many of your staff could be struggling silently.

Someone with Endometriosis may not feel comfortable with disclosing their diagnosis for fear that assumptions about their productivity might be made. Ensure to create an open and compassionate environment, with easily accessible and in-person support facilities. 

  • More sanitation awareness:

You can go to extra lengths by openly offering menstrual equipment in bathrooms, and including posters and information on the back of toilet doors, for example. This instils in people’s minds that the company is supportive and aware, and will continue to encourage an open discourse. By doing so, you promote a healthier mindset when approaching female wellbeing.

  • Encourage medical attention:

As well as offering your employees support, or the chance to work from a home office, you can encourage them to seek professional medical help, and reassure them that there are a range of treatment options. Specialists are now able to manage pain levels and even operate in severe conditions. It no longer needs to be a lifetime diagnosis. 

Don’t forget to remain educated. Continue to read up on women’s health and have tools to hand should you be approached. Here are some further tips you could offer an employee who thinks they might have Endometriosis: 

  • Keep a symptom diary to make conversations with a health care provider easier, including noting pain levels and how they fluctuate. 
  • Record any pain involved with urination and bowel movements and encourage a lack of stigma around such subjects.
  • Remember that the pain and symptoms associated are genuine and debilitating, and remind employees of the option to take over-the-counter medication.
  • Remind them that some women do suffer from heavier and more intense periods, and that while this may not be Endometriosis, they don’t need to suffer in silence and should seek medical advice for methods of controlling this. 

Healthcare for these types of things can often be difficult to obtain, especially if a chronic diagnosis is affecting someone’s mental health. By offering your employees a service like Peppy, they have free access to hands-on specialists who are qualified to diagnose, advise and support, and don’t need to concern themselves with taking time off work for appointments or financing their own private subscriptions. 

It can also offer you and your team advice on how to retain dedicated employees, encouraging them to give back to you the support you have shown them. We can assist with maternity leave advice and how to offer a regimented plan, as well as administrative and medical support whenever you’re struggling to assist an employee with a recent diagnosis. 

Women's Health
Women's Health

Expanding inclusion: Addressing the overlooked stories of women left behind

Achieving true inclusion isn’t about grand gestures; it’s about the little moments and the individual stories. It's listening to "THAT Woman" – you know, the one who’s brilliant but maybe a bit misunderstood or overlooked at work. We should be giving her the mic and making sure we're all ears.


A decade too late? The hidden costs of menopause


Navigating silent grief: How employers can support employees through baby loss

Every year, an unsettling statistic resounds across the UK – at least 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. This striking number implies a significant portion of your workforce has, or will, experience this traumatic event. Our new research, conducted by Censuswide in partnership with the British Infertility Counselling Association and Fertility Matters At Work, with over 1000 employees, delves deep into the subject, bringing to light the scale of the issue as we explore in this article. This is Baby Loss Awareness Week, there's no better time for employers to address and provide the needed support for this heart-wrenching loss.


How to help new parents return to work after parental leave

Navigating the transition back to work after parental leave is a journey filled with excitement, anxiety and a host of unexpected challenges. The real experience of returning to work is often more complex than policies and guidelines can capture. Here's an in-depth look at the unspoken realities and how employers can provide the support new parents truly need.


The long road to PCOS diagnosis

Over 1 million people in the UK are living with undiagnosed polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). But is this just another period problem for women to learn to live with, or is the long and complex road to diagnosis something employers should be doing something about? 

Men's Health

Men matter: Addressing the impact of male fertility on business

From our school days, we're taught about the 'birds and the bees' with an unmistakable emphasis on female fertility, when in fact male-factor infertility makes up around 50% of all cases. In our modern age, it's astounding how this outdated narrative continues to dominate not just societal discourse, but also workplace health policies across the globe. It's time we rebalanced this equation. Men's fertility is an integral part of the reproductive story and needs equal attention and support.


Miscarriage in the workplace – the do’s and don’ts

Experiencing a miscarriage is massively traumatic, both physically and emotionally, with long-term feelings of grief and loss. Whether you’re a close friend, family member, colleague or line manager, this is a difficult issue to tackle. But it needs to be tackled – with sensitivity.


Why Businesses Can’t Afford NOT to Support Menopause