endometriosis ban

Why Spain’s endometriosis ban is a step backwards for women

Endometriosis columnist and stage 4 endometriosis sufferer Emma Kemsley, shares her opinion of the recent news that Spain has banned women with endo from joining its police force.

Eyebrows were raised by women around the world when Spain announced that its police force will ban endometriosis sufferers from joining the force. As the news hit my inbox, I took a big sigh. Had I woken up in the 1950s? Spain is a country I am fond of, in fact, I’m in the process of hoping to relocate in the near future, and while I have no intention of joining the police force, I felt disappointed. Disappointed for every endo sufferer, every campaigner and every charity that works so hard to raise awareness. Our voices had been heard but for all the wrong reasons.

Dr.Manual Carreras, gynaecologist at Sagrada Familia Hospital in Barcelona, was utterly shocked when he heard the news: “I can’t believe that it is true! The question is why?”

He added: “I repeat that if this is true, it is a very serious fact, a gender discrimination ethically unacceptable.”

It appears highlighting the severity of the condition has propelled us into a category of discrimination. The concept of awareness campaigns is to help with a faster diagnosis, to be taken seriously by medical professionals and to ultimately receive better treatment. It’s not to be used as an excuse to undermine us.

The news to ban all women with endometriosis emphasises how misunderstood the disease is. I will admit, that yes, I couldn’t carry out the duties of a police officer, but that’s due to my level of fitness rather than my endometriosis. Yes, my endometriosis would likely cause problems four to five days a month, but I could still work the other 25/26 days and be a valuable member of the team. It’s unfair to tarnish every woman with endometriosis with the same brush. We all have different symptoms, and some have no symptoms. It would appear the Spanish police force need an education in women’s health.

It also raises the question, what happens to the women currently in the role who suffer with endometriosis? Will they be dismissed? There are currently over 9,000* women in the Spanish police force. With 1 in 10 women diagnosed with endometriosis, it potentially means 10% of women police officers will be forced to stay silent in fear of losing their job.

Let’s hope understanding doctors, such as Dr Carreras, can join together and provide the knowledge required to help sway this decision.

*Data from 2019 

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