News

‘Wake up’ to the burden of endometriosis for patients and the NHS, urges charity

Women wait years for diagnosis, and data show thousands seek hospital treatment each year
Image of a uterus with endometriosis

Women wait years for diagnosis, and data show thousands seek hospital treatment each year

The health service must wake up to the chronic condition endometriosis, which forces thousands of women and girls to seek hospital treatment in England each year, a charity says.

The condition can cause debilitating painful periods, yet Endometriosis UK says women are left to suffer with the disease because their pain is not taken seriously. It takes an average of seven and a half years to get a diagnosis, the charity says.

One in eight hospital admissions are emergency cases

NHS Digital data show hospitals across the country admitted 22,288 women and girls with a main diagnosis of endometriosis in 2018-19.

Of these, 2,825 (13%) were emergency cases, with patients arriving through the emergency department or rushed to hospital after visiting

Women wait years for diagnosis, and data show thousands seek hospital treatment each year

Image of a uterus with endometriosis
Picture: Alamy

The health service must ‘wake up’ to the chronic condition endometriosis, which forces thousands of women and girls to seek hospital treatment in England each year, a charity says.

The condition can cause debilitating painful periods, yet Endometriosis UK says women are left to suffer with the disease because their pain is not taken seriously. It takes an average of seven and a half years to get a diagnosis, the charity says.

One in eight hospital admissions are emergency cases

NHS Digital data show hospitals across the country admitted 22,288 women and girls with a main diagnosis of endometriosis in 2018-19. 

Of these, 2,825 (13%) were emergency cases, with patients arriving through the emergency department or rushed to hospital after visiting their GP.

Read our clinical update on endometriosis

Greater awareness among healthcare professionals

Emma Cox, chief executive of charity Endometriosis UK
Emma Cox of Endometriosis UK

In endometriosis, tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows elsewhere, such as around the ovaries. The tissue sheds in the same way that blood does during the menstrual cycle, but has nowhere to escape to, causing inflammation, pain and scar tissue.

Around 10% of women of reproductive age are thought to be affected – 1.5 million across the UK – and there is no cure for the disease.

The charity’s chief executive Emma Cox said it was ‘heartbreaking’ that women had to suffer so long, and called for more awareness among healthcare practitioners.

‘Many women don't even realise the pain they are suffering isn't normal, after years of being told they must have a low pain threshold and to put up with it,’ she said.


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs