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Breaking the Silence: Destigmatising Endometriosis in the Workplace

14 March 2024

Endo Awareness Month V1

With March marking Endometriosis Awareness Month, we at Team Oprema feel it’s the perfect opportunity to shine a light on this condition which is so close to our workplace – but in truth, it’s also much closer to other workplaces than you might already be aware of.

Endometriosis affects as many people as diabetes. A whopping 1 in 10 people assigned female at birth live with this condition, with common symptoms including extreme pain, heavy periods, tiredness, and difficulty getting pregnant. It occurs when cells similar to those found in the lining of the womb also start to grow in other areas of the body, such as the fallopian tubes or ovaries, or even other organs such as the bladder or bowel.

Yet, even with so many suffering from this chronic illness, it’s often overlooked in a professional setting. There is a stigma attached to menstrual health, and despite how common endometriosis is, lots of people still have never heard of it.

At Oprema, the conversation around endo doesn’t start and end in March. Several of our colleagues live with the condition, and an open conversation is supported all year round within our workplace culture. Some of these women have kindly agreed to share their experiences of endometriosis in the workplace, to help raise awareness and highlight where the right support in a professional setting can change lives for the better.


How has access to a private healthcare scheme through Oprema supported your journey with endometriosis?



It helped me incredibly. I’ve been fortunate to have two extensive surgeries through our private healthcare which totalled over £20,000 – all of which I paid £150 excess.

Treatment was second to none, I waited weeks for appointments and surgery instead of months (in some cases years) so my diagnosis was much quicker. I felt like I was really looked after and understood by my surgeon.

Sometimes on NHS, due to pressures you can see several different doctors/consultants and you have to explain your medical history and background all over again. Whereas, in my experience with private healthcare, you see one consultant consistently for every appointment, this is the same consultant that operates and does follow up appointments etc. It feels like they know your case and understand your issues better.


It’s helped me massively; I had 2 surgeries via the private healthcare in 2023. My 1st surgery was to diagnose my endo and the surgeon removed a small portion. My 2nd surgery was to remove as much of it from my reproductive organs as possible and my 3rd will be to have it removed from my bowels and kidneys.

Without the surgeries via private healthcare, I would still be waiting for my diagnosis surgery and probably would still be waiting a few more years. I don’t think people realise how debilitating the chronic illness is; the pains are equivalent to a contraction that a lady feels before giving birth.


What do you think your workplace should have in place to support those with endometriosis?



Definitely a flexible working environment. Having a manager who you can be open and honest to, and who can facilitate open dialogue, is also crucial. It really helps that endometriosis isn’t a silent issue within the office – there’s no feeling of being an outsider or having any kind of shame, which is so refreshing.


Empathy from colleagues and line managers. Flexible working, working from home if you need to, and flexibility for doctor and hospital appointments.


A lot like Anna, a flexible working environment is critical; being able to WFH if your pain is too bad rather than just having to be off work is such a help.

A lot of people don’t know about endo, or if they do, they know very little about it – so a manager who is happy to read about it, to try and understand what their staff are dealing with. A previous manager of mine at Oprema used to send me links to podcasts and articles about endo, he made such a big difference to my working environment in a really good way.


Have you felt that Oprema has gone the extra mile to help with your endometriosis journey?



Yes. I can speak openly and honestly with my manager who has been affected by the same condition herself. To have that support from someone gives you a boost and encouragement to do well at your job, even though you have other things affecting your life. This really makes a difference to help feel empowered in your job.

Another massive benefit I’ve felt from working at Oprema is flexibility with medical appointments. Other workplaces could really take something from this approach.


Yes, I’ve always felt comfortable asking for time off for appointments, surgery and recovery. I’ve never felt guilt, or like I was letting anyone down.

Everyone is consistently very supportive. There are a few other ladies in the office that have the same condition, so we talk openly about it which I think is really healthy and refreshing.


Yes, they always have, and I’ve never not felt supported on my journey. From being able to talk open and honestly about my condition, to taking time off for surgeries and appointments. I am very lucky in this regard.


What do you think more people should know about the presence of endometriosis in the workplace?



The most important thing is that you should feel listened to, no matter what. I think that goes for any type of issue, not just endometriosis. That’s where Oprema comes into play with their level of support.


Sometimes you’re just going to have a bad day. Sometimes you might look okay, but not be okay. Endometriosis is definitely one of those taboo subjects, but it’s great for the wider business to understand that it’s not ‘just a bad period’. It is a lifelong condition that can cause chronic pain and inflammation, and impact upon many other parts of your life.


How common it is. Around 1.5 million in the UK are currently living with endo and the disease doesn’t discriminate: it is the 2nd most common gynaecological condition in the UK. That it is a chronic illness, not ‘just bad period pains’. That pain isn’t the only side effect; severe fatigue and depression go hand in hand, on top of the crippling pain, constant tiredness, and other mental health issues. Most of the women are trying to come to terms with not being able to conceive children – it affects every part of your life.


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