Endometriosis Workplace Support

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 29th October 2019.

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Photo of Alec Shelbrooke Alec Shelbrooke Conservative, Elmet and Rothwell 2:30 pm, 29th October 2019

My hon. Friend summarises the biggest issues that those women face. I will talk about the real-life experiences of the women who have contacted me, but one of the most important things—I hope other Members will expand on this—is that there are support networks out there, because women often suffer in silence. As I said, this subject goes beyond the DWP: certainly, the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care have a role to play.

In June 2015, the BBC carried out a study on 15,000 women in Scotland. It found that women with the condition had a 76% chance of miscarriage, which is unbelievably high. The article reported that women with endometriosis had a trebled risk of ectopic pregnancy. The chance of premature birth was 26% and the chance of having a caesarean was 40%.

Later, I will talk about the impact on women of abnormal and heavy bleeding and bowel movement impacts, which can be distressing in the workplace. I am aware that the issue I am about to talk about falls under the authority of the Department of Health and Social Care, but it is vital to add context and explain why this disease has a knock-on effect in the workplace. I ask the Minister to ensure that this debate is fed into the relevant Ministers in the Department of Health and Social Care.

The House of Commons digital engagement team put out a survey only last Thursday, and there have been 2,610 responses, 1,083 reactions, comments and shares on Facebook, and 215 retweets. I want to cite some of the quotes from it. Again, I will not put the names out there; I will just set out the reports.

“At 18 I am currently being put through medically induced menopause to try and fight back against my endo, it’s horrific, it’s debilitating and it’s exhausting. The pain I have I cannot even describe, and two operations later I am no further to being pain free or living a normal life. My next step is a hysterectomy, I haven’t even had children yet and this is what is being recommended to me. My life has been overtaken by operations, drugs, injections, sickness, anxiety, depression and a whole load of awful nights with no sleep and no rest. I am currently finishing my A Levels and I am absolutely terrified of what life will be like after. My dream is to become a primary school teacher, but I think that dream is unachievable. How will I find an employer who will understand that I often have to lay in bed because as soon as I move I will throw up, or that I have had to have time off work because I’ve got to have my ovaries removed? It’s about time that endometriosis is taken seriously, and people understand that life is so challenging and excruciating, but we carry on, smiling through the pain, simply because we have no alternative.”