“Does your partner have endometriosis and does it impact on your sexual wellbeing?”
This question is being asked by a research student at the University of Sydney, who is currently investigating the sexual impact that endometriosis has on male partners.
It is a question that has ignited significant uproar, with many criticising the study for ignoring the sufferers of endometriosis — women.
Imogen Dunlevie, an endometriosis sufferer, said she could not see how men’s sexual wellbeing was relevant to sufferers.
“Women struggle so much to be believed or taken seriously about endo. For there to be focus on men and their sex lives, rather than women is pretty awful,” she said.
“All this tells people is that for women’s pain to be legitimate men have to suffer too.
“Endometriosis is so ignored. When people actually care about it and focus on it then yeah ask the lads how they feel.”
But the researcher, Jane Keany, defended the study by saying that talking to men will actually in turn help women struggling with the condition.
“I thought this kind of reaction could occur… in fact, in a sense it mimics what happens for men,” Ms Keany said.
“Some men have said they are really scared of expressing their own sexual needs because their partner is in such a bad way [so] they just have to set their own needs aside.
“I’m not saying that’s a bad thing… it’s a giving thing in fact, but let’s see if we can use that to open up the conversation more broadly.”
Ms Keany said some men may find that sexual intercourse with their partner is largely characterised by their fear of causing pain and they may feel it has to be over as soon as possible.
In that case, the man is focusing on the pain he is inflicting which means the quality of his experience is not good, Ms Keany said.
“And it starts to get murky unless you talk about these things.
“It even reduces the couple’s ability to have friendly touch as one or both of them are so worried about it leading to intercourse.”
Ms Keany said she can understand why women feel uncomfortable with her study, but encouraging couples to talk is necessary.
“It’s easy to misunderstand this as being a woman’s problem, but I’m saying this is a couple’s problem,” she said.