Dr Shefali Tyagi, Consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Motherhood Hospitals, Sarjapur, Bengaluru
Endometriosis is a chronic, inflammatory illness that develops when tissue that resembles the uterine lining grows in other parts of the body. It can have a detrimental impact on a woman’s everyday life, including her physical and emotional well-being as well as her productivity, with symptoms like infertility, persistent pelvic pain, painful periods, difficult sex, back pain, and intestinal issues. According to the Endometriosis Society of India, this ailment affects 2.5 crores, or 25 million, Indian women today. However, due to taboos associated with menstruation, it is rarely discussed and understood.
Many endometriosis sufferers first experience symptoms when they are teenagers or early adults. But many women don’t receive a formal diagnosis until they are in their early thirties. The average time it takes to get a diagnosis is eight years.
The challenges that women with endometriosis may face in the workplace, such as frequent doctor’s appointments, fatigue, and pain
Because of erratic symptoms, adverse effects from powerful medicines, and frequent trips to the bathroom, it might be challenging to concentrate at work. Women who undergo surgery to diagnose endometriosis require recovery time and may require more procedures in the future. It might be unpleasant, feel like an invasion of privacy, and even unfairly jeopardize future job possibilities to try to explain this to co-workers and bosses. Sick days can be taken away rapidly, and women may feel under pressure to work even when ill.
In and around menstruation and ovulation, stomach pain is one of the most typical symptoms for women. Primary dysmenorrhea is a permanent condition brought on by erroneous uterine contractions. Endometriosis is frequently the cause of secondary dysmenorrhea. It may also lead to exceptionally heavy or unregular menstrual flow, as well as bleeding for longer than usual. Common signs of endometriosis include constipation, diarrhoea, or pain during bowel movements, especially when the cells adhere to the intestine. Many endometriosis patients who report these symptoms are frequently misdiagnosed with gastrointestinal conditions such as appendicitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and Crohn’s disease. Due to the diverse clinical manifestations of endometriosis, each patient should receive a customized treatment strategy that is catered to their specific needs. It may be required to visit the doctor frequently in the early days following diagnosis because this can take time to optimize.
More than one in five women with endometriosis also have IBS, according to a review of studies, and it is still unclear how the two disorders are related. It also causes females to feel physically tired and weak, it is an underestimated symptom that affects the majority of individuals with the condition. Furthermore, typical of endometriosis is increased abdomen bloating around the time of one’s cycle. The back and abdomen may hurt and feel uncomfortable due to the bloating and cause disruptions in between the work.
What offices can do to help?
Even if it could be challenging at times, working full- or part-time may often be required to maintain financial stability. This suggests that despite everything they are dealing with, endometriosis-affected women may still need to negotiate the workplace. Here are a few suggestions that can help a woman with endometriosis ease work at the workplace:
- A warm bean bag or hot water bottle for the belly or back, with permission to use both.
- The capacity to plan their workday so one may focus on less difficult things when they’re on medication-induced brain fog.
- Being permitted to work from home if the pain is too severe to allow one to move. Taking longer breaks to go around or use the restroom.
- Permit to dress comfortably in baggy clothes that don’t pinch.
- If one’s profession needs them to stand for extended periods, utilize a chair or a high stool.
Therefore, the sort of diagnosis shouldn’t discredit women’s experiences with endometriosis or the severity of their symptoms. Government officials and employers should recognize that women with “suspected” endometriosis require the same level of care as those with surgically confirmed endometriosis. The condition of endometriosis might be difficult to control. Better symptom treatment may be achieved with an early diagnosis, a multidisciplinary medical team, and comprehension of the diagnosis.