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.

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