What is the impact of endometriosis on male partners of women with the condition?
Endometriosis significantly impacts men across several life domains and can negatively impact emotional well-being.
WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY
Endometriosis has been shown to negatively impact women's quality of life and may strain intimate relationships. Little is known about the impact on male partners.
STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION
The ENDOPART study was a cross-sectional, qualitative study of 22 women with endometriosis and their male partners (n = 44) in the UK (2012–2013).
PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS
Inclusion criteria: laparoscopic diagnosis of endometriosis; the presence of symptoms for at least a year; partners living together. Data were collected via face to face, semi structured interviews with partners interviewed separately. Data were analysed thematically, assisted by NVivo 10.
MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE
Men reported that endometriosis affected many life domains including sex and intimacy, planning for and having children, working lives and household income. It also required them to take on additional support tasks and roles. Endometriosis also had an impact on men's emotions, with responses including helplessness, frustration, worry and anger. The absence of professional or wider societal recognition of the impact on male partners, and a lack of support available to men, results in male partners having a marginalized status in endometriosis care.
LIMITATIONS REASONS FOR CAUTION
Self-selection of participants may have resulted in a sample representing those with more severe symptoms. Couples included are in effect ‘survivors’ in relationship terms, therefore, findings may underestimate the contribution of endometriosis to relationship breakdown.
WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS
The study extends knowledge about the impact of endometriosis on relationships, which thus far has been drawn largely from studies with women, by providing new insights about how this condition affects male partners. Healthcare practitioners need to take a more couple-centred, biopsychosocial approach toward the treatment of endometriosis, inclusive of partners and relationship issues. The findings demonstrate a need for information and support resources aimed at partners and couples.
STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)
This study was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (reference ES/J003662/1). The authors have no conflicts of interest.||en