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March 8th 2022

Medical Negligence

Endometriosis Awareness Month: It affects one in ten woman, but what is it?

Caroline Murgatroyd

Caroline Murgatroyd

Associate, Clinical Negligence

Endometriosis Awareness Month: It affects one in ten woman, but what is it?

One-and-a-half million women in the UK live with endometriosis yet in my experience it is a condition that is not widely understood or discussed.

One-and-a-half million women in the UK live with endometriosis yet in my experience it is a condition that is not widely understood or discussed.

It is the second most common gynaecological condition in the UK but data suggests the average time to diagnosis the condition is seven-and-a half-years.

Many of the women who approach me concerned about possible delays in diagnosis, often after years of painful symptoms, had not heard of endometriosis prior to diagnosis or if they had they knew little about it.

  • 54% of people do not know what endometriosis is, increasing to 74% of men
  • 62% of women between the age of 16-24 don’t know what endometriosis is
  • 45% of women are unable to name any symptoms of the condition

Endometriosis UK says that lack of education in schools is contributing to taboos in talking about female health; delaying access to treatment; and increasing diagnosis time.

Increased awareness is required so that more can be done to recognise the symptoms of endometriosis at an earlier stage and to encourage those affected to voice their concerns about their health so that they do not suffer for many years without treatment and support.

Endometriosis is a long-term condition whereby tissue similar to that usually found in the lining of the womb, grows elsewhere in the body; usually in the pelvis around the womb, ovaries and fallopian tubes.

During the menstrual cycle the endometrial tissue in the womb bleeds and leaves the body as a period but the endometrial tissue that has grown outside the womb has nowhere to go. This leads to pain, inflammation and can lead to scarring, infertility and bowel and bladder problems.

Symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Period pain that stops you doing normal activities
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Pain when urinating
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Fatigue

Women with endometriosis may also have heavy periods.

Research suggests that 62% of women would be reluctant to report these symptoms to their GP due to embarrassment or because they think such symptoms are normal.

The symptoms can be similar to other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or pelvic inflammatory disease and, consequently, even after reporting the symptoms to a doctor, many women can go years without being diagnosed and during that time suffer worsening symptoms which can have a profound impact upon their mental health.

Scans, blood tests and internal examinations are often performed but normal results do not exclude endometriosis as the underlying cause of symptoms. Laparoscopy is the only definitive way to diagnose endometriosis.

Depending upon the severity of symptoms, endometriosis can be managed with painkillers and hormone treatments or surgery may be recommended to remove endometrial tissue. Currently there is no cure. The intention of treatment is to make the condition manageable and improve the quality of life for those living with the condition.

A delay in diagnosis is not necessarily negligent but if a GP, gynaecologist or other clinician was negligent in diagnosing the condition then a claim for compensation to reflect the additional pain and suffering caused by the delay can be brought.

You can make a claim if you have received the wrong diagnosis, if your diagnosis was delayed, or if you weren’t given a diagnosis at all. Our dedicated legal experts specialise in misdiagnosis claims. If you or a family member have suffered as a result of negligence, we will discuss your experience and possible options available to you, make the process of claiming for compensation straightforward, and evaluate the impact that misdiagnosis has had on your life.

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