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Endometriosis: 50% still don't know it exists

5th March 2020

It's Endometriosis Awareness Month

 

Half of the UK is unaware of the life-changing condition that’s as a common in women and those assigned female at birth as diabetes and asthma, according to new research. This lack of awareness is also contributes to those suffering not receiving the right care at the right time. Endometriosis costs the economy £8.2 billion each year in treatment, healthcare costs and loss of work and yet, the only definitive way to diagnosis endometriosis is through surgery. Many workplaces still do not recognise the condition.

Some shocking statistics

  • Endometriosis affects 1.5 million women and those assigned female at birth in the UK, similar to the number affected by diabetes or asthma
  • 54% of people do not know what endometriosis is, increasing to 74% of men
  • 62% of women between the age of 16-24 don’t know what endometriosis is
  • 45% of women are unable to name any symptoms of the condition
  • Recent research shows that there is now an average of 7.5 years between women first seeing a doctor about their symptoms and receiving a firm diagnosis.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is an extremely painful condition in women (including young women aged 17 and under) presenting with one or more of the following symptoms or signs:

  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Period-related pain (dysmenorrhoea) affecting daily activities and quality of life
  • Deep pain during or after sexual intercourse
  • Period-related or cyclical gastrointestinal symptoms, in particular, painful bowel movements
  • Period-related or cyclical urinary symptoms, in particular, blood in the urine or pain passing urine
  • Infertility in association with one or more of the above
  • Symptoms and severity can vary, with some not experiencing such pain.

Endometriosis  is a condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb (uterus) are found elsewhere in the body. Each month these cells react in the same way to those in the womb, building up and then breaking down and bleeding. Unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape.

Endometriosis can affect all women and girls of a childbearing age, regardless of race or ethnicity.

How can I tell if it is endometriosis?

Getting diagnosed with endometriosis may take some time. The symptoms of endometriosis are very similar to other common conditions. It's important to share as much information with your doctor as possible.

The only definitive way to diagnose endometriosis is by a laparoscopy - an operation in which a camera (a laparoscope) is inserted into the pelvis via a small cut near the navel. The surgeon uses the camera to see the pelvic organs and look for any signs of endometriosis. If endometriosis is diagnosed, the endometriosis may be treated or removed for further examination during the laparoscopy.

Scans, blood tests and internal examinations are not a conclusive way to diagnose endometriosis and a normal scan, blood test and internal examination does not mean that you do not have endometriosis. Because endometriosis manifests itself in a variety of ways and shares symptoms with other conditions, diagnosis can be difficult and often delayed.

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