A report by MPs is calling for major improvements in endometriosis healthcare and diagnosis in the UK.
The All-Party Political Group Inquiry surveyed over 10,000 people on endometriosis, a condition known to cause debilitating pain, heavy periods and infertility.
The inquiry found that despite 1 in 10 women suffering from the disease, the average diagnosis takes eight years.
Out of those suffering, 58% of people had to visit their GP 10 times or more for a diagnosis, while a further 53% had to rush to A&E with severe symptoms.
The inquiry uncovered some shocking realities. The majority of the participants had stated that their mental health was often affected by the condition and some even had to quit their jobs in order to manage their symptoms.
37-year-old Sarah Smallbone explained to MPs that she was diagnosed withendometriosis when she was 30 and then had to endure four operations in just three years. The woman who initially worked in a supermarket was forced to leave her job due to her condition. Smallbone stated:
After several warnings for my sickness, the final straw was returning from surgery, which ended up causing me kidney failure and being given an official disciplinary. Knowing that I still needed another operation to reverse my bowel, I felt I had no choice but to quit.
Conservative MP, Sir David Amess who chaired the inquiry made a statement saying that the rate that endometriosis is ignored or mistreated is out of hand:
It is not acceptable that endometriosis and its potentially debilitating and damaging symptoms are often ignored or not taken seriously - or downplayed as linked to the menstrual cycle and periods.
Nadine Dorries, minister for woman’s health claims that while awareness about endometriosis is growing, there is still much room for improvement and medical advancement:
I am committed to filling the evidence gaps to better understand the issues facing women and improve women's health," she said. "We have provided £2m, through the National Institute for Health Research, to investigate the effectiveness of surgery compared with non-surgical interventions to manage chronic pain in a specific type of endometriosis.
Clinicians have a vital role in removing the stigma associated with endometriosis and I would urge them to follow the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines, and to do all they can to support the mental and physical health of those suffering from this condition.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis occurs when the uterine lining starts growing outside of the uterus such as on the ovaries and fallopian tubes. The disease shows no discrimination and can affect women of any age. Currently, endometriosisaffects 176 million people worldwide but still much is unknown about the disease.
Symptoms of endometriosis are also often misdiagnosed by doctors and some women may be unaware that what they’re feeling isn’t normal.
- Pelvic pain that gets worse during your period
- Period pain that stops you from completing your normal activities
- Pain during or after sex
- Pain when going to the bathroom during your period
- Feeling nauseous or experiencing diarrhoea or constipation during your period\
- Trouble getting pregnant
Unfortunately, the process of being diagnosed with endometriosis is often a long one and involves many doctors appointments, ultrasounds and even biopsies. However, once diagnosed little options exist for the sufferer as there is no known cure for the condition. Sufferers are mostly offered treatments in the form of pain killers, hormone therapy and surgery to either cut away endometrial tissue or a full hysterectomy.
It is also unknown what causes endometriosis. Although for some the disease seems hereditary, it is also believed that the condition could be caused by retrograde menstruation, issues with the immune system or even the spreading of endometrial cells. Despite these theories, none fully explain the cause behind the disease leaving much, much room for improvement.
If you feel you might be showing symptoms of endometriosis please consult your GP for advice.