The impact of endometriosis on work ability in young Australian women

Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2023 Aug;63(4):556-563. doi: 10.1111/ajo.13683. Epub 2023 Apr 26.


Background: Whereas symptomatic endometriosis may affect work performance, the impact of endometriosis in the general community is not known.

Aims: The associations between endometriosis and each of sick leave and work ability, were investigated in a large sample of non-healthcare seeking women.

Materials and methods: This community-based, cross-sectional study recruited 6986 women, aged 18-39 years, from three eastern states of Australia between 11 November 2016 and 21 July 2017. Women were identified as having endometriosis if they had undergone a pelvic ultrasound and reported a diagnosis of endometriosis. Working women completed the Work Ability Index.

Results: Participants were predominantly of European ancestry (73.1%) and 46.8% were overweight or had obesity. The prevalence of endometriosis was 5.4% (95%CI 4.9-6.0%) with the highest prevalence of 7.7% (95%CI 6.5 to 9.1%) for women aged 35-39 years. Among the 4618 working women, those with endometriosis had significantly more sick days from work (33.6% reported ≥10 days vs 13.5%, overall χ2 P < 0.001). Endometriosis was associated with a greater likelihood of poor to moderate work ability, after adjusting for age, body mass index, ethnicity, relationship status, student status, insecure housing, being a carer for another person, parity, ever use of assisted reproductive technologies, and depressed mood (odds ratio 1.90, 95%CI 1.40-2.58, P < 0.001).

Conclusions: This study provides new evidence that the negative impact of endometriosis on work attendance and work ability is not limited to women with prevalent symptoms and severe disease, but appears to encompass women across a broader spectrum of this condition in the community.

Keywords: dysmenorrhoea; endometriosis; pelvic ultrasound; work ability.

MeSH terms

  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Endometriosis* / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pelvis
  • Work Capacity Evaluation