Comment

Jane Bates: Time to raise the profile of endometriosis

Delays in diagnosing endometriosis are causing misery and pain for many women and costing the NHS a fortune in unnecessary investigations. 
bates

Delays in diagnosing endometriosis are causing misery and pain for many women and costing the NHS a fortune in unnecessary investigations

I never thought I would be standing on Westminster Bridge shouting about periods, said a friend. She had taken part in a march to raise the profile of endometriosis and draw attention to the importance of early diagnosis of this life-changing, fertility-wrecking, career-destroying condition.

Endometriosis affects 10% of women of child-bearing age. It is the second most common gynaecological condition in the UK, yet it takes an average of 7.5 years from the onset of symptoms to obtain a diagnosis.

No wonder so many women were out there demanding to be taken seriously, because all too often this is

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Delays in diagnosing endometriosis are causing misery and pain for many women and costing the NHS a fortune in unnecessary investigations 

 

bates
Endometriosis affects 10% of women of child-bearing age,
but it can take years to get a diagnosis. Picture: iStock

‘I never thought I would be standing on Westminster Bridge shouting about periods,’ said a friend. She had taken part in a march to raise the profile of endometriosis and draw attention to the importance of early diagnosis of this life-changing, fertility-wrecking, career-destroying condition. 

Endometriosis affects 10% of women of child-bearing age. It is the second most common gynaecological condition in the UK, yet it takes an average of 7.5 years from the onset of symptoms to obtain a diagnosis.

No wonder so many women were out there demanding to be taken seriously, because all too often this is not the case when they pitch up at their doctor’s. A colleague had significant back pain as a feature of the disease, but was initially sent packing by her GP with a dismissive ‘all nurses have bad backs’. 

Misery and pain

Another friend, when she complained of extensive period pain and menorrhagia, was told she needed to see a psychiatrist. Then there is its misdiagnosis as a sexually transmitted disease. ‘I’ve had so many chlamydia tests you wouldn’t believe it,’ said one woman. 

Not only is this delay in diagnosis causing misery and pain, it is costing the NHS a packet in unnecessary investigations. Endometriosis is unlikely to kill you but it devastates people’s lives, so why does it go unacknowledged and unrecognised? 

This is why so many were rallying that day, to demand that GPs become more aware and more proactive. We nurses, as patients’ advocates, need to support these women, even if it does mean standing on Westminster Bridge shouting about periods.


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire 

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