In June 2017, two new studies were published both focusing on the effects of partners of women with Endometriosis.
In the first study we’ll be discussing (from The Journal of Obstetrics an Gynaecology Research), 51 partners of women with Endometriosis completed and returned questionnaires. A breakdown:
- 75% reported a negative affect on their own day-to-day life;
- 52% felt their finances were affected (partly due to the fact that their partner’s weren’t able to work as much, if at all);
- Although 70% of the partners were involved in the healthcare decision-making process, only 34% felt that healthcare providers had engaged them in that process;
- 80% stated they hadn’t received information about dealing with Endo as a couple;
- 74% reported on affect on sex life, mostly due to the pain it causes their partners. (All except 8 partners said they could not have sex because of the pain it caused);
- 56% reported on affect on their relationship; and,
- It suggested that better education and support be provided to partners of women with Endometriosis. And it stated, “Involvement of partners from the beginning, normalization of symptoms, and education may assist in dealing with the burden of the disease.”
The second study, published in the Oxford Academic publication, Human Reproduction, included 22 male partners of women with Endometriosis answering questions. In summary:
- Nearly half of the participants stated sex was rare to non-existent. This was due to pain, lack of desire due to medication, fatigue, stress, bleeding before/during sex, or even just feeling unattractive. Four of the men stated matter of factly that they don’t want to pursue sex because it hurts their partners;
- It affected the ability of many to have children, or frustrated efforts to conceive;
- Many men reported a difficulty in their work due to taking time off of work to be with their partners, childcare, or household tasks. Many of these men felt an added pressure to provide more income due to their partner’s inability to work as much (if at all);
- New roles in the relationship developed since the diagnosis: accompanying them to appointments, taking time off work to care after surgery, household chores and tasks, child care, and a much deeper support role emotionally;
- Most men expressed feeling helpless, frustrated, worried, and angry (anger was directed toward healthcare) regarding Endometriosis;
- The majority of men felt there was a lacking of support for partners of people with Endometriosis.
- And my favorite? Many described that since the diagnosis, they’ve learned to become better partners: caring, listening better, more supportive, has brought them closer, strengthened the relationship.
I am grateful for an understanding and supportive partner, but I also know that many women don’t have a partner who is as understanding. And that breaks my heart.
If YOU are the partner of someone with Endo and are searching for support, consider joining the Braave support network; it’s specifically for partners of EndoSufferers. If you know of any other support groups for partners of people with Endometriosis, please let me know! I’ll add them here.
And, both studies are linked below in our Resources section, if you’d like to read them.
Braave – online support network for partners of women with Endometriosis
Oxford Academic Human Reproduction (Article, June 2017) – A Qualitative Study of the Impact of Endometriosis on Male Partners
The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research (Abstract, June 2017) – Exploring the Impact of Endometriosis on Partners