Despite causing chronic pain, infertility and a great deal of distress, it takes women with endometriosis an average of six to eight years to be correctly diagnosed.
Partly because it’s difficult to identify, but also because women aren’t being listened to.
Which is why the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued guidelines about endometriosis for doctors for the first time.
Often mistaken for an overreaction to normal period pain, endometriosis can consist of severe menstrual pain, pelvis pain, pain during sex and even infertility.
And even if a woman is definitely experiencing these symptoms, an ultrasound test can still come out negative, which is why the new instructions are encouraging medical professionals to listen to women first and foremost.
“Delayed diagnosis is a significant problem for many women with endometriosis leading them to years of unnecessary distress and suffering,” Professor Mark Baker, director of the centre for guidelines at NICE, told The Guardian.
“The condition is difficult to diagnose as symptoms vary and are often unspecific. However, once it has been diagnosed, there are effective treatments available that can ease women’s symptoms.
“This guideline will help healthcare professionals detect endometriosis early, to close the symptom to diagnosis gap and to ensure more timely treatment.”
Endometriosis affects 176 million women worldwide and 1.5 million in the UK, with celebrities such as Susan Sarandon, Lena Dunham and Whoopi Goldberg having spoken out about the condition.
The condition occurs when endometrial-like tissue – which would usually form in the lining of the womb – grows elsewhere such as in the uterus, bladder or bowel, and can cause a great deal of pain and complications.
And while treating it effectively can be difficult, such as by taking the combined pill or undergoing surgery, the earlier it’s detected the better.
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