Endometriosis inquiry to be launched after thousands of women reveal debilitating impact of condition

Sabrina Barr
Getty Images/iStockphoto
Getty Images/iStockphoto

MPs are to launch an inquiry into endometriosis after thousands of women revealed the detrimental impact of the condition.

More than 13,500 women took part in a study conducted by the BBC that explored how living with endometriosis affects their lives.

Nearly all of the women who participated in the study said the condition negatively impacted their careers, sex lives and mental health.

Moreover, around half of the respondents stated that they had experienced suicidal thoughts, and the majority said they rely on prescription painkillers on a monthly basis to help cope with painful symptoms.

Following the publication of the research, an inquiry is to be launched by MPs in the near future, which will see patients and healthcare professionals speak about their first-hand experiences and advise the government on how it can intervene.

Sir David Amess, chair of the APPG (all-party parliamentary group) on Endometriosis, explained that the group is “committed to raising awareness of this condition and representing the interests of people who live with it”.

“It is essential that women with endometriosis are given the right support at the right time,” Sir Amess added.

Gill Furniss, who holds the position of secretary on the parliamentary group, tweeted that she is “looking forward to working with colleagues” to launch the inquiry.

Emma Cox, CEO of Endometriosis UK, said that the “potentially devastating impact this condition can have on people’s physical and mental health cannot be overstated”.

“Without investment in research, a reduction in diagnosis time and better access to pain management, women will continue to face huge barriers in accessing the right treatment at the right time,” Cox said.

When an individual has endometriosis, this means that tissue similar to that which grows inside the uterus grows in other parts of the body.

This growth often occurs on the ovaries, bowel and the lining of the pelvis.

The tissue acts just like it would in the uterus – growing, thickening and trying to shed during every menstrual cycle.

This can lead to symptoms including heavy periods, painful menstrual cramps, painful bowel movements and difficulty conceiving.

Endometriosis affects more than 1.5 million women in the UK, with the average diagnosis time currently standing at seven and a half years.

Sarah Hughes, chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, explained that suffering from a physical issue “significantly increases our chances of having poor mental health”.

“These figures are a stark reminder that physical and mental health are not felt separately, yet health services still too often cannot deal with them both at the same time,” Hughes said.

“Women living with endometriosis deserve support for their mental health as well as for the condition itself and its many effects on a woman’s life.”

Following the release of the research, Endometriosis UK is calling on the government to implement several measures, including asking the NHS to provide support for all those who suffer from endometriosis and asking for increased investment into research.

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