Endometriosis is a long-term condition, affecting 1 in 10 women, where cells similar to the ones in the lining of the womb (uterus) start to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

What are the main symptoms?
  • Pain in your lower tummy or back (pelvic pain) – usually worse during your period
  • Period pain that stops you doing your normal activities
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Pain when peeing or pooing during your period
  • Feeling sick, constipation, diarrhoea, or blood in your pee during your period
  • Difficulty getting pregnant

You may also have heavy periods. You might use lots of pads or tampons, or you may bleed through your clothes. For some women, endometriosis can have a big impact on their life and may sometimes lead to feelings of depression. While there is currently no cure for endometriosis, there are different treatments that can help ease the symptoms. The NHS website provides further information on these.

Speak to your GP if you are experiencing symptoms of endometriosis. You might find it helpful to write down your symptoms before your appointment.

Keeping a record of your pain and symptoms can help you and your doctor when it comes to both diagnosis and management of symptoms. Endometriosis UK has a pain and symptoms diary which you can use to help you with this.

Endometriosis can be a challenging condition to deal with, both physically and emotionally. In the below video, Atima shares her story of being diagnosed with endometriosis and how the condition has impacted her life.

Having endometriosis can have a significant impact on an individuals daily life. Employers must be aware of how to support an employee suffering from endometriosis in the workplace.

Endometriosis-related symptoms such as chronic pelvic pain or painful periods may make it difficult to get to work or handle tasks efficiently. There are some tips you may be able to use to make getting through the work day more bearable.

Talk to a trusted colleague or team member

You do not have to share information on your condition if you don't want to, and whatever you do choose to share is up to you. However, opening lines of communication with a trusted coworker may be helpful and provide you with a friend and confidant that will understand and have your back when you need to take a break or are having a rough day. 

Stagger challenging tasks

Take note of your energy levels and any regular symptom changes throughout the day and plan your challenging tasks around them. Being mindful of your body and relating it to the tasks you have at hand may help you create a to-do list that is feasible and attainable.

Be prepared

Be ready in the event that endometriosis-related pain or other symptoms strike when you're at work. Keeping a heating pad in your desk to place on your abdomen, or pain relief if you begin cramping may help reduce pain when you need it the most.

Take breaks

Needing to take a break, or multiple breaks, during the work day is completely normal. Some of these breaks may even including going for a walk, participating in an activity, or leaving your place of work for lunch.

Source: www.endometriosis.net

Your menstrual cycle (period)

Even though periods are a normal and natural part of life, many people find that their periods are an intrusion or an interruption to their day-to-day life. 

Period pain is common and a normal part of the menstrual cycle that most people who menstruate experience. It's usually experienced as painful muscle cramps in the tummy, which can spread to the back and thighs. The pain sometimes comes in intense spasms. At other times it may be dull but more constant.

It may also vary with each period. Some periods may cause little or no discomfort, while others may be more painful. Sometimes you may get pelvic pain even when you do not have your period.

Period pain usually starts when bleeding begins. But some people have pain several days before the start of their period.The pain usually lasts 48 to 72 hours, although it can last longer. It's usually at its worst when your bleeding is heaviest. However, this pain can usually be managed at home by taking painkillers. If you find your period pain cannot be managed this way, contact your GP to discuss this. 

Periods can be unpredictable in timing and in heaviness. Managing your period on long shifts can be difficult because of this and other factors including period pain, PMS symptoms and having access to period products. Some ways you can manage your periods on long shifts are: 

  • Finding menstrual products that suit you, including cups and reusable sanitary pads or period pants 
  • Some people use multiple products as once such as a sanitary pad and period pants.
  • Keep necessary products in your bag, locker or desk alongside pankillers, food and non-diuretic drinks. 
  • Placing boxes with spare supplies in bathrooms or changing rooms. 
  • Practice self-compassion including taking breaks when needed. 
  • Being open with colleagues about menstruation can help make us feel more comfortable asking when we need a spare pad or sharing tasks if our period is making us struggle at work that day.

Endometriosis UK 

Endometriosis UK offers valuable support and information to those affected by endometriosis. Call their free confidential helpline if you have any questions about treatment or would just like someone to talk to on 0808 808 2227. 

They have also written a guide for employer's, which provides an overview of the legal situation when it comes to managing endometriosis at work.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Have provided an information leaflet if you wish to know more about endometriosis. It may also be helpful if you are the partner or relative of someone with endometriosis.

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