8 years later, turned out endometriosis was more than a bad period

Rebecca Sykes explains the gynaecological condition affecting 1 in 10 women for Endometriosis Awareness Month

Rebecca Sykes
19th March 2021
Image Credit: Ava Sol on Unsplash
Girls Just Wanna Have Fudamental Health Care, but with the UK APPG inquiry report in 2020 finding no advancement in diagnosis for endometriosis in a decade, it’s not looking good.

What is endometriosis? The second most common gynaecological condition in the UK occurs when endometrial-like tissue grows elsewhere to the uterus, especially the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the pelvic lining. This can become inflamed and form scar tissue (adhesions), obstructing movement.

62% of women would be reluctant to visit their GP with symptoms of endometriosis

Cyndi Lauper, Daisy Ridley, Halsey, Whoopi Goldberg, and Oona King are 5 of the estimated 176 million women and those assigned female at birth worldwide who live with endometriosis. According to the report, 62% of women would be reluctant to visit their GP for fear of being laughed away, having it gently suggested that they’re overreacting and don’t know their own body, being told it’s normal, and being embarrassed.

Image Credit: Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash

The report also found 58% of women suffering with endometriosis, who do visit their GP, would have had to go over 10 times before getting a diagnosis.

Along with this, the average time for a diagnosis in the UK is 8 years. 8 years of living with a painful condition with little recognition and little to no help and being ignored. That’s not good enough.

A pain that stops women from living everyday life is not normal. It is certainly nothing to be ashamed about.

Symptoms include severe cramping, heavy periods, pain during and after sex, infertility and severe fatigue

A continuing stigma of “chronic period pain is normal” or “you must have a low pain threshold” leads into a painful narrative of diminishing the disease. A narrative that Endometriosis Awareness Month of March continues to combat, by instigating progressive conversations about the condition. One of the objectives Endometriosis UK is calling on the government to commit to is reducing diagnosis time to 4 years or less by 2025. A simple way to begin reducing diagnosis time would be listening to women.

Image Credit: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Symptoms, displayed by 75-80% of women living with endometriosis, often are chronic pain of strong cramping, severe pelvic discomfort, heavy and painful periods. Several other symptoms are difficulty conceiving or infertility, which is often why women seek diagnosis; painful bladder and pelvic movements, pain during and after sex, and severe fatigue.

Oona King, Baroness and former Labour Party politician, reported how a gynaecologist examining her remarked on her cramps being the same as the second stage of labour.

What causes endometriosis? We don’t know, but genetics could be a risk factor. There hasn’t been much funding towards finding out the cause of the disease predominantly affecting women.

What is the cure? We don’t know. Again, there has been little funding. A diagnosis sooner than a shocking 8 years and more medical research would be good starting places. Meanwhile, hormonal (including the pill), surgical and complementary treatments are available to help someone manage the condition. In very serious cases, laparoscopic procedures are issued.

For support about endometriosis, I recommend: Endometriosis UK (0808 808 2227), or contact a GP, or an endometriosis specialist.

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