How to explain endometriosis to your boss? Managing endometriosis at work.
How to explain endometriosis to your boss?
I wrote already an article on how to explain endometriosis pain to a guy, but how to explain endometriosis to your boss?
This is supposed to be formal yet easy to explain because you might be in pain, feel tired, or bleed at the time.
The last thing you want is to have a long conversation with your boss.
To quickly answer the question of how to explain endometriosis to your boss, here are 12 quick steps you need to know:
- Prepare what you want to say.
- Don’t be ashamed. Be honest.
- Provide research-based evidence.
- Ask a man to join you.
- Let your man speak.
- Ask for occupational health.
- Equality Act 2010 as a disability.
- Discuss menstrual leave paid policy.
- Educate HR on the condition.
- Other options…
- Post-surgery leave.
- Know your rights, legal approach.
One of the best ways to explain the complexity of endometriosis to your boss is by educating him with tools such as my “Endo-Tool, Endometriosis for Men” e-Book. The 1st chapter is FREE and can teach him all the basics he needs to know, including:
- What is endometriosis?
- What are the symptoms?
- What causes endometriosis?
- What does endometriosis look like?
- What are the stages?
- What are the types?
- What is adenomyosis and how is it related to endometriosis?
- Why do some women develop severe endo and others don’t?
- Does endometriosis cause infertility?
- How is endometriosis diagnosed?
- Do types and stages affect the treatment?
- Recurrence of endometriosis after excision surgery.
Get FREE “Endo-Tool”
Endometriosis for Men e-Book
Just like bosses need to have sometimes tough conversations with their employees, you need to have a tough conversation with your boss too.
Usually, it’s a pay raise, a promotion, or conflict.
You, however, are going to discuss health issues and need to feel confident to be able to speak to your boss about endometriosis.
In order to feel empowered, the best thing you can do is to prepare for what you want to say before your meeting.
In order to explain endometriosis to your boss easily, write down all questions you may have and any inquiries you would like to raise.
You will have worries and expectations. Write it all down.
Asking for help can be a struggle for many people. It was for my wife too.
People have the idea that asking for help means that they are weak. That is actually the opposite.
Asking for help means that you’re not shy but brave, and have the strength to realize your limitations.
Those are all difficult situations, like yourself, most of the time end with a positive outcome, despite the initial difficulty.
Remember, this difficult conversation will help both – the boss and you.
Because a happy employee is a good employee.
The only difficulty here is to actually start the conversation. How do you go about it?
Ask questions, ask a lot of them.
Don’t be ashamed. Be honest.
One of the first steps when approaching your boss with endometriosis is not to feel ashamed.
I get that people say these are female things and they shy away from such conversations.
Don’t listen to what other people say. It is important to you, and discussing the issue is the only way to solve it.
Be brave, girl! And be honest.
You need to explain endometriosis to your boss, what it is and how it affects your daily life.
Your boss isn’t going to know what you’re thinking, feeling, or going through, so you need to explain it to him.
Don’t waste time beating around the bush, just go straight to the point. Share facts from your point of view.
By explaining endometriosis with “I” statements, you can explain how you feel without coming off as aggressive.
Being honest and truthful may not seem easy but you need to approach your boss from this angle.
Be respectful when approaching your boss and make the conversation about you, not everyone else.
However, if something is bothering you, bring it up sooner rather than later.
Also asks for your boss’s perspective, his point of view. Maybe he knows something you don’t that you’ll find helpful…
Provide research-based evidence to explain endometriosis to your boss. It’s important!
The very problem with endometriosis is that there are only theories on how it appears. I’ll leave it at that.
What important for your boss to know are the facts. The facts are that you can prove the existence of your endometriosis.
It’s an invisible disorder until proven otherwise. In reality, it is a physical illness that can be revealed with the help of laparoscopic surgery.
Ideally, you should explain this to your boss in case he needed some form of evidence.
You can explain to him that 10% of women form after their puberty unusual cells which are under the influence of hormonal changes, and they form the endometriotic tissue.
Ask a man to join you…
This is one of the best pieces of advice I can ever give. I attended countless endometriosis group meetings and in the majority of them, there were no men present.
There was once a proper seminar filled with doctors and researchers. I found in the audience consisting only 1% of guys.
They were true men, men who love and support their partners, as they should.
I remember one guy passing me in the corridor, we exchanged no words, but we nodded to each other as we knew, we felt proud for being supportive to our ladies.
This is the exact reason why I say this – we can bring a lot to the table especially when you try to explain endometriosis to your boss.
The next paragraph explains to you why…
Let your man speak!
My wife was always marginalized by male doctors who never fully understood her calls for help.
M used to feel neglected, abandoned, and frustrated because none of her physicians took her seriously.
My wife was subjected to a lack of knowledge and total ignorance from them.
Every time she raised her concerns about abdominal pain and heavy bleeding, she was met with responses such as “you’re a woman, your period should hurt”.
Other practitioners use to say that she was anxious, she’s stressed there is nothing wrong with her.
They used to say “take two of those, you’ll be fine”…
My wife was put on Prozac as a teenager and left on it for 18 long years. She had to get off them by herself because no doctor was taking a notice of her pleads to come of them.
When she developed her first symptoms of endometriosis at the age of 38, they wanted to put her on antidepressants.
It angered me to the point I decided to do something about it. I’ve had it!
Armed with plenty of (polite but to the point) arguments I went to her next appointment with her.
Just my presence was enough to change their tune, let alone what I had to say.
I confirmed her symptoms adding that they also begin to affect me as her husband.
I had a lot to say in my mind but it turned out that just by me being there changed these male doctor’s attitudes.
I decided to put it to a test. I accompanied my wife during her other GP visits, hospital appointments, even her psychotherapy, both – private and group sessions.
All the male professionals treated my wife with respect and listened to what she had to say.
Her manager did not take her seriously either. The story repeated itself yet again.
I decided to do something about it – I called my wife’s boss without her knowledge and politely asked for a meeting.
We organized it and I came along with my wife to discuss the sensitivity of her subject.
I told my wife – “darling, today we are going to explain endometriosis to your boss, I organized the meeting, you won’t even have to say a word”.
My wife felt supported and grateful. My presence actually helped her to openly say how she felt.
During the meeting, we asked for occupational health…
Ask for occupational health.
Occupational health keeps people well at work – physically and mentally.
Occupational health services will help to keep your bosses employees (you) healthy and safe whilst at work and manage any risks there are to health.
That includes endometriosis.
My wife was provided occupational health. It made her feel more confident about the future, and rightly so – it worked, they helped.
Her boss actually researched (as he described) “occy” and was very pleasant and helpful.
But bear in mind, even though in the end all turned out to be helpful, it didn’t happen without delays.
Plenty of people who are employed live with a health condition or disability. As a result, ill-health represents a major economic burden for society due to increased healthcare costs.
Employers lose productivity due to sickness and absence. Of their employees.
Research shows that if a person has a chronic health condition, it is better for them to be working if possible.
Employers need to be aware of the importance of helping employees with long-term health conditions.
Workers may be affected by their own chronic conditions but they may, alternatively, need to care for family members with a chronic illness too.
They may be also in need of some flexibility in their working conditions which could help them better manage the situation.
That was actually the case for me. I took plenty of time off when my wife needed me the most.
Luckily for me, I work for a private healthcare company, whose HR understood the importance of my absence.
Let’s talk about the Equality Act 2010 as a disability…
Employers have a legal duty to provide support for workers with chronic disorders.
My wife’s employer knew that. Your one should too. It’s his duty!
The Equality Act 2010 requires that our bosses make “reasonable adjustments” in the workplace.
This meant to prevent employees from being treated less favorably than others for reasons related to their disability or chronic condition.
The law is on your side ladies!
The conditions covered by the Equality Act relate to both – physical and mental because they have a long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Supporting you with endometriosis can also minimize the boss’s potential costs of your long-term absence.
Up to 20% of women experience extreme cramps with their period – this condition is called “dysmenorrhea”.
However, you suffer, and when you explain endometriosis to your boss, he should have no issues putting a menstrual policy in place, if it’s available in your country.
Discuss menstrual leave paid policy.
Menstrual leave is a type of leave where a woman may have the option to take paid or unpaid leave from her work if she is menstruating and is unable to go to work because of this.
This policy helps women suffering extreme period pain one or two days off work.
It already exists in several countries around the world, but has been widely criticized as counterproductive, often reinforcing negative stereotypes of female workers.
So check with your employer if he provides it in your country.
Despite a large number of women experiencing regular disruptive pain, stigma can prevent problems from being addressed.
However, you’re at this point in the conversation with your employer that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask, besides, there is a man by your side to support you.
Educate HR on the condition.
We live in a society that is considered open-minded yet when it comes to female health, there is always a number of loopholes.
Endometriosis is one such condition. It’s not even often talked about because not many people know about its existence.
Women with endometriosis experience discrimination, particularly in their workplaces where men lead. Despite the growing awareness, they often find it very difficult to express their symptoms to their employers.
If you haven’t spoken to your male boss or he doesn’t acknowledge the issue, you always have HR.
The HR manager should feel compelled to act on the information you provide, even if that means launching a formal investigation.
The HR manager will want to hear your story, so prepare to hand over any evidence or documentation you already have.
Be clear about the facts.
Talking to Human Resources about your condition can bring relief because you know that things are going to be done.
The HR department will gather all the relevant information and prepare the statement of your problem so you can discuss the matter calmly and rationally whenever you’re ready.
Remember, they are there to help you not stand in your way.
Ask for different tasks or work from home.
My wife works from home. After discussing the issue with her employer, he even offered her to buy a new laptop to work with!
If your job isn’t possible for you to work from home, you can always discuss different tasks you could do.
When you explain endometriosis to your boss, he’ll be more open to giving you different tasks. After all, the last thing he needs is to lose employees.
In an ideal world, you’d have a perfect amount of work to fill your day. But in reality, you’re probably overwhelmed.
Endometriosis doesn’t help either, you are in a worse position than other employees. You need support and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it.
So, schedule a time you want to have a chat, and explain to your boss what’s really going on. Open communication is the first step toward finding a solution.
In regards to working from home, it will not only improve your symptoms, but it will make you more productive!
The latest Covid-19 pandemic changed how employers look at people working from home.
For people with chronic conditions, thinking about balancing living happily and productively while minimizing pain, is a daily challenge.
A quick piece of additional advice I can give you here is blogging.
I wrote about the subject of when you can’t work because of caregiving explaining the benefits, and giving a step-by-step guide on how to do it. It also applies to you as the sufferer of endometriosis.
Plenty of people with endometriosis, fibromyalgia, and other chronic disorders make a living from blogging!
I am on the right path to achieving this soon. I want to help my chronically ill wife who suffers from multimorbidity, live a happy, financially secured future.
She deserves it, so do you!
Taking weeks off for surgery is not the same as missing a couple of hours of work for a doctor’s appointment.
So, have a conversation with your boss as soon as possible. Waiting until the last minute may not go well.
Advance notice will give your employer time to find someone to take care of your responsibilities while you are gone. This will help and keep you away from a backload when it is time to come back.
It would be wise if you discussed your expectations before you take medical leave.
Also, when you return to work after your operation, discuss temporary adjustments you could have to slowly come back to 100% productivity.
There is no obligation for your employer to pay any sick pay, other than SSP unless it is in your contract of employment.
Your boss is not obliged to pay sick pay, however, he cannot force you to use your paid holiday either, no matter what is the case.
Know your rights!
The legal approach to endometriosis is important because not many people think about it.
Some of the women who suffer from endometriosis and have a job outside their home know all too well how many days each month they have to force themselves to get out of bed and go to work.
Many times such effort is motivated by the fear of losing money or even losing the job because you use too many sick days because of endometriosis problems.
Over the past decade, a number of laws have been put in place to protect the rights of workers with ongoing disabilities.
There are a number of different employment rights that may be important for you who suffer from endometriosis.
Endometriosis UK, a leading charity that has produced a helpful guide for employers which provides an overview of the relevant employment laws and the issues that can arise with endometriosis.
It raises three areas of employment law in particular:
- The duty to make reasonable adjustments.
- Statutory sick pay.
- Flexible working.
Ideally, you should get to know them, you will find there everything you need to know… You’re welcome!
To finish off…
My wife made a great improvement with her endometriosis using all the above points.
Sure, I helped her greatly, but we are a team, you and your partner should be too. After all, you’re going to spend life together and should support one another.
My wife works from home, which allows her much easier to eat a proper endo-focused diet.
Additionally, she has less stress which improved her pain and symptoms drastically.
She can feel more flexible, doesn’t have to rush and fight with public transport. She also saves money on it!
There are many adjustments you can make to make your life with endometriosis easier. Don’t be afraid to explain endometriosis to your boss.
It will benefit you greatly.
Hi, I’m Lucjan! The reason why I decided to create this blog was my beautiful wife, who experienced a lot of pain in life, but also the lack of information about endometriosis and fibromyalgia for men…