The toll of endometriosis isn’t just isolated to one individual. New research opens the discussion on how the condition can extend to impact a patient’s satisfaction in their romantic relationships.
Endometriosis can be a source of significant stress. Women living with endometriosis may be less likely to share the extent of their stress with their partner, as they feel that the condition should be dealt with independently as “their own problem.” This in itself can increase the strain on romantic relationships, especially if the partner does not fully comprehend the physical and emotional struggles brought about by endometriosis. A couple that is equipped to overcome the burdens together may be happier in their relationship as a result.
Surveys of sixty couples showed that higher emotional intimacy (i.e. mutual understanding, support, and enhanced communication) between partners leads to greater relationship satisfaction when one member of the couple suffers from endometriosis. Empathetic partners who can comfort their loved one throughout the difficulties of endometriosis appear to create more fulfilling relationships as a result.
Healthcare providers could, therefore, engage the partners of endometriosis patients throughout appointments and design tools like empathic communication training to support couples through treatment sessions. Guiding partners towards methods of support for their loved one may be a useful tactic to provide a “buffer” against negative emotional impacts that the condition may otherwise inflict on the relationship. Ultimately, these measures could increase the compassion and happiness shared between each couple.
Van Niekerk, L. M., Schubert, E., & Matthewson, M. (2020). Emotional intimacy, empathic concern, and relationship satisfaction in women with endometriosis and their partners. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 1-7. DOI: