The association of endometriosis with work ability and work life participation in late forties and lifelong disability retirement up till age 52: A Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 study

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2021 Oct;100(10):1822-1829. doi: 10.1111/aogs.14210. Epub 2021 Jul 7.


Introduction: Endometriosis may cause a deterioration of daily functioning due to related symptoms such as pain, fatigue and psychological distress. Accordingly, endometriosis may jeopardize work ability, as suggested in mainly survey-based case-control studies, including clinically established cases at fertile age. This is the first general population-level study to evaluate how endometriosis is associated with (1) self-rated work ability and sick leave dates at age 46 years, (2) registered disability and unemployment days between age 46 and 48 and (3) lifelong emergence of registered disability retirement up to age 52.

Material and methods: Endometriosis case identification was based on the Care Register for Health Care and self-reported diagnosis from a population-based birth cohort, which covers 96% of children born in Northern Finland in 1966. A total of 348 women with endometriosis and 3487 women without endometriosis were identified. Questionnaire data on Work Ability Index Score was collected at age 46. Unemployment and disability days were determined from the Social Insurance Institution of Finland and the Finnish Center for Pensions registers. Finally, each individual's first-ever granted pension decision and diagnoses were collected until age 52 years. The associations between endometriosis and work ability were assessed using logistic regression models.

Results: Endometriosis was associated with poor work ability at age 46 (odds ratio [OR] 1.62, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.06-2.47). Furthermore, the association between endometriosis and over 10 days of absenteeism was increased (OR 1.53; 95% CI 1.05-2.23). Between ages 46 and 48, women with endometriosis had 10 days more disability days (55.5 vs 45.5, p = 0.030) in comparison to women without endometriosis, but 20 days less unemployment days (40.6 vs 59.2 days, p = 0.013). There were no differences in early retirement between the study groups until age 52.

Conclusions: Our study showed that endometriosis associates with poor work ability at age 46. Women with endometriosis have more disability days. However, their employment rate and risk of early retirement are comparable to those of women without endometriosis at late fertile age.

Keywords: disability; employment; endometriosis; register-based study; retirement; work ability.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Endometriosis*
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Registries
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Work Capacity Evaluation*