Women with endometriosis wait seven years for a diagnosis
According to Endometriosis UK it takes an average of 7.5 years to get a diagnosis of endometriosis in this country. So during this year's Endometriosis Awareness Week (March 3 - 11, 2018), the charity is hoping to raise awareness of the condition among affected women who may not yet have been diagnosed.
One in 10 women of reproductive age in the UK is thought to be affected by endometriosis, the charity claims. Here are some other facts and figures published by Endometriosis UK that you may not be aware of:
- Endometriosis is the second most common gynaecological condition in the UK.
- It affects around 1.5 million women (a similar number of women are affected by diabetes).
- Up to 30 – 50 percent of women with fertility problems are thought to have endometriosis.
- The cause, however, is unknown, and there is no cure.
Endometriosis is a common condition where tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb – the endometrium – is found outside the womb. It’s a long-term condition that causes painful or heavy periods, bleeding between periods, and abdominal, pelvic or lower back pain. It may also lead to low energy levels, depression, an inability to conceive and relationship/sex life difficulties.
The symptoms, however, can vary enormously from one woman with endometriosis to the other. According to the NHS, whereas some women are badly affected, others may not have any noticeable symptoms. And while some experience pain all or most of the time, others may have pain at certain times, such as during their periods, during sex and when they go to the toilet.
What should you do?
If you think you may have endometriosis, see your GP who, if necessary, can refer you to a specialist to carry out tests (you can also ask your GP for a referral). Endometriosis shares several symptoms with other common conditions, so getting diagnosed may not be straightforward. This could also partly explain why it takes such a long time for many women to get a firm diagnosis.
Indeed, according to Endometriosis UK the only definitive way to diagnose the condition is to have a laparoscopy. This is an operation where a tiny camera is inserted into your pelvis via a small cut near your navel, which allows a surgeon to look for any signs of endometriosis internally. If any signs of endometriosis are found, they may be treated at the same time or removed for further examination.
If you are diagnosed with endometriosis, treatments are available that could help ease your symptoms and allow you to carry on living as normally as possible. These include painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol, hormone treatments (including hormone-based contraceptives) and various types of surgery.
There’s lots more information about endometriosis treatments at Endometriosis UK’s website. Your local Careway pharmacist may also be able to help with alternative suggestions to reduce pain, including using a hot water bottle, heat patches or other non-drug pain relief methods such as a TENS machine (TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator).