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Alarming Statistics Revealed: 75% of Women with Endometriosis Symptoms Delay Seeking Medical Help

Person with stomach pain
Endometriosis symptoms can include pelvic discomfort and painful periods (Alamy/PA)

Symptoms can include pelvic pain, agonising periods and difficulty conceiving – but it can take years to get a diagnosis. By Prudence Wade.

Three in four women and those assigned female at birth would not go to a doctor with potential endometriosis symptoms, according to new research.

To mark Endometriosis Action Month in March, the charity Endometriosis UK is urging anyone with potential symptoms to visit their GP.

Research suggests more than a fifth of people worry doctors might not take the symptoms seriously, and many don’t feel comfortable talking about periods and menstrual health with family, friends, colleagues or medics.

Three-quarters (75%) of respondents said they would put off seeing a doctor if they were experiencing painful periods which were interfering with day-to-day activities – this number rises to 92% of those aged between 16 and 34.

Among those who are reluctant to see a doctor, 24% said it was because they think painful periods are part of life, and 23% didn’t think it was serious enough to bother a GP with.

Endometriosis is where cells similar to those in the uterus are found elsewhere in the body. These cells follow the menstrual cycle similar to those in the womb – building up and breaking down – but the blood has no way to escape, leading to inflammation, pain and scar tissue.

It affects approximately one in 10 women and those assigned female at birth in the UK.

Symptoms vary from person to person and range in severity. Common symptoms include pelvic pain, painful periods, pain during or after sex, pain when urinating, painful bowel movements, fatigue and difficulty getting pregnant.

We cannot continue to ignore and normalise the sometimes debilitating symptoms of endometriosis

Emma Cox, CEO of Endometriosis UK

Emma Cox, CEO of Endometriosis UK, says: “If you’re experiencing chronic pelvic pain or other symptoms of endometriosis, talk to your GP.

“In the past, endometriosis symptoms may have been shrugged off as ‘normal’ or ‘not serious’ – these myths are slowly but surely being eradicated, although there is still a long way to go. Keeping a pain and symptoms diary can help when speaking to your GP, helping them understand what you’re experiencing and supporting a diagnosis.”

Cox says the findings of the survey – taken from 2,000 UK respondents – should be a “wake-up call” for governments and the NHS.

She says: “We cannot continue to ignore and normalise the sometimes debilitating symptoms of endometriosis, and the impact of this disease and other menstrual health conditions. With an average time to diagnosis of eight years, urgent action is needed to ensure all those affected by endometriosis have a prompt diagnosis and access to the right care.”

Endometriosis UK is calling for the NHS and Governments to make sure healthcare practitioners recognise the symptoms, and pathways and services are improved.


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