Men, gender and endometriosis: accounts of chronic illness from the ‘well’ partner
Endometriosis is a relatively common gynaecological condition affecting up to 2 million women in the UK alone. Common symptoms are chronic pelvic pain, fatigue, heavy painful periods, and a deep pain experienced during sexual intercourse. It is also associated with 40% of attendances at infertility clinics and a poorer outcome in women undergoing IVF. There is no consensus on what causes endometriosis or the most appropriate medical treatment and there is no definitive cure. Research with women living with endometriosis has highlighted the chronic and disabling nature of the condition and its impact across a wide range of life domains. However, very little is known about how male partners of women living with endometriosis experience this condition or about the dyadic components of gendered chronic illnesses more generally. Whilst all chronic conditions will affect the "well" partner to some extent, endometriosis can be particularly problematic for couples because of its potential impact on fertility and sexual relationships and because of its enigmatic nature. This paper is based on an ESRC funded dyadic study of heterosexual couples living with endometriosis (www.endopart.co.uk). From an analysis of interviews with male partners of women diagnosed with endometriosis, it explores how men make sense of a gendered chronic condition, the impact on men’s lives and the kinds of health work that men enact in daily living with a partner with endometriosis.
Citation : Hudson, N., Culley, L., Denny, E., Mitchell, H., Raine-Fenning, N. and Law, C. (2012) Men, gender and endometriosis: accounts of chronic illness from the ‘well’ partner. Paper presented to the British Sociological Association's 2012 Medical Sociology Annual Conference, University of Leicester, UK, 5-7 September 2012.
Research Group : Reproduction Research Group