Endometriosis affects around 1 in 10 females globally, yet for many, awareness of this health issue has too often slipped under the radar. A lack of clarity both amongst the public and amongst experts has been expressed as a key factor, with other gender-related disparities coming into play.
Fortunately, there are treatments that can help to manage the condition and awareness is slowly becoming more mainstream. Read on to learn more about this commonly misdiagnosed condition.
What is endometriosis?
According to the NHS, endometriosis is a long-term condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places, such as the ovaries or fallopian tubes. This can have consequences on a woman’s health, often creating uncomfortable and sometimes life-changing impacts. Causes are largely linked to genetics and immune system issues.
Common symptoms of endometriosis include intense period pain and pelvic pain in the lower tummy or back. For many women with endometriosis, their version of ‘period pain’ is significantly more intense than those without the condition, although this is not always widely understood. One of the most triggering side effects can include fertility issues, where becoming pregnant is extremely difficult.
Depending on the severity of the condition, possible treatments for endometriosis include over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen or paracetamol. In some cases, hormone medicines or contraceptives, such as the combined pill or the implant, are prescribed to help relieve painful periods.
In more severe cases where the tissue has covered a large proportion of the reproductive organs, surgery might be required. This involves removing endometriosis tissue, or in extreme cases, performing a hysterectomy, where part or all of the organs affected are removed.
The misdiagnosis issue
Unfortunately, the issue of misdiagnosis surrounding endometriosis is very common. This is even the case among gynecologists who specialize in this area. It takes an average of 8 years to be diagnosed, often with misdiagnosis along the way. Sometimes, the common misdiagnosis can result in medical negligence claims, where a medical negligence solicitor can help you seek compensation.
The so-called Gender Pain Gap is largely to blame, as well as the lack of information and education given to young women. Often, the extreme pain experienced is dismissed as period pain, with pain during sex often being dismissed too. Some experts have even highlighted being given incorrect information about endometriosis during their training.
Many women don’t recall having the condition explained to them in school either, fostering an unfair culture of withstanding pain even though the body signalling that something is wrong. Increasing awareness seeks to make everyday life more comfortable for women with the condition, with many campaigning for time off work on bad days to help manage the pain.