The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has called for GPs to stop overlooking symptoms of the condition such as severe period pain
By Katie Jones
Doctors are being advised to diagnose endometriosis sufferers in a shorter time and consider endometriosis in women reporting just one symptom, such as painful periods.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has warned that women can wait up to 10 years before being diagnosed with the condition, which can have a huge impact on quality of life.
About 1 in 10 women have endometriosis, in which the tissue (endometrium) normally lining the womb (or uterus) is found on organs outside the uterus. It can lead to severe symptoms including painful periods, pelvic pain, pain during sex and difficulties in getting pregnant.
It takes an average of 7.5 years to get a diagnosis of #endometriosis in the UK – it shouldn’t. Lets bring that down by raising awareness. pic.twitter.com/1v3csXp68V
— Endometriosis UK (@EndometriosisUK) March 3, 2017
In its new guidelines, NICE says that delayed diagnosis is a “significant problem” for women with endometriosis.
“Patient self-help groups emphasise that healthcare professionals often do not recognise the importance of symptoms or consider endometriosis as a possibility,” the watchdog warns. “In addition, women can delay seeking help because of a perception that pelvic pain is normal.”
The guidelines state that doctors should suspect endometriosis in women (including those aged 17 and under) presenting one or more signs of the condition and should not rule out a diagnosis even if abdominal or pelvic examinations are normal.
NICE also advises healthcare professionals to provide clear information on treatment to relieve symptoms, such as hormonal contraceptives.
The recommendations come after a report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Health found that 42% of women said that they were not treated with dignity and respect when it comes to when it comes to their gynaecological health. 62% of women also said they were happy with the information that they received about treatment options for endometriosis.
Emma Cox, chief executive of Endometriosis UK, welcomed the guidance from NICE. “During that time women are in pain and suffering, the disease can get worse and there are real mental health issues. If you are told for seven-and-a-half years that you are just making it up and it is in your head, then it has a massive impact on your health and wellbeing,” she told The Guardian.
If you think you might have endometriosis, these are the signs to look out for, according to NICE:
• Chronic pelvic pain
• Period-related pain 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 1 or more of the above.