Is endometriosis a disability?

Endometriosis is a chronic condition that can seriously affect your daily life, but it doesn’t automatically qualify as a disability under equality law. In fact, very few health conditions do, but that doesn’t mean that a person living with endometriosis can’t be disabled by their condition and the law accepts this.

For some, the condition may be manageable and they find they’re able to do most, if not all things they need to do in life without a problem. Others might find that their symptoms intrude on their daily life in a far more extreme way: they may find it difficult to work or even to carry out day-to-day tasks like showering or food shopping.

Physical or mental impairments which have a ‘long-term’ and ‘substantial’ adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities are covered by the Equality Act 2010.

  • Long-term means 12 months or more
  • ‘Substantial’ means more than minor or trivial

Endometriosis can take some time to get a confirmed diagnosis, so it’s important to know that you are still eligible for the protection provided by the 2010 Act even if you haven’t had a confirmed diagnosis. The protections offered under the Act don’t depend on what the condition is or a confirmed diagnosis. What is important is how long it has affected you, and whether it stops you living a normal life and carrying out everyday tasks.

If your symptoms are not continuous

The Act makes provisions for those people whose symptoms are at their worst at different times, for example, one week out of four, or the week of your period. If your symptoms have a substantial impact on your ability to carry out everyday tasks and you know that this is likely to happen every month for many years, this is called a ‘continuous impairment’ and you would be protected as a disabled person.

Endometriosis symptoms can get worse as time goes on – known as a ‘progressive condition’ and are also covered by the Equality Act 2010.

The Act also says that if you have had an operation or treatment for your condition which has left lasting problems, you can still be classed as disabled.

This information is not intended to constitute and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice on any specific matter. No liability for the accuracy of the content of this website, or the consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author or NHS Wales. In addition providing links to other sites does not indicate approval, endorsement or guarantee the correctness of the information available on these sites.

Patient Perspectives

Our patient perspectives are taken from interviews with endometriosis patients and the 2018 survey

  • Even before he [the specialist] confirmed that I had it and had the surgery and afterwards when he said, ‘Yes, I found it. It confirmed our suspicions. It was here and it was there just that acknowledgement that there could be something causing it; that it wasn’t in my head; I wasn’t going mad; I wasn’t defective as a woman and broken in some way. It was a relief.

     

  • There are doctors who I can’t, well, they weren’t unkind, or they weren’t trying to dismiss me, but they just didn’t understand endometriosis. I don’t think there anything like enough education going out to general practitioners, or general gynaecologists.
  • It has such a knock-on effect with the rest of the family as well. With family and friends. I think the fact that there’s no cure out there is quite daunting for a lot of people, but again, until there’s more awareness, until there’s more research, how do we expect there to be any more answers?