Talking about sex and women's diseases

Some women suffering from endometriosis, a disease that causes chronic pelvic pain, have criticised a Sydney University student for choosing to conduct research on the sexual impact of the disease on women’s partners.

According to reports, the research question being asked of men by the Masters student is:

Does your partner have endometriosis and does it impact on your sexual wellbeing?

Critics argue it is damaging to women to ask men how their partner’s endometriosis affects their sex life; that it prioritises men’s sexual pleasure over women’s pain.

An opinion piece in the Guardian states there is no logical way any discussion about endometriosis should focus on how it impacts men. The author writes:

Studies like this one make it look like the only way endometriosis will get attention is if we highlight how it hurts men.

As a feminist women’s health researcher, my sympathies lie with the women who have suffered from the condition. Endometriosis is a chronic disease where endometrial-type tissue grows outside the uterus. It affects around one in ten women of menstruating age, yet it is under-diagnosed, under-reported, and under-researched.