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The Social Barriers to Diagnosing Endometriosis

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Endometriosis is a complex condition, and with so many factors at play, it’s no wonder it is so difficult to diagnose. Endometriosis occurs when endometrial-like tissue forms in other parts of the body, causing adhesions and scarring between pelvic organs. Australian studies have uncovered that up to 11% of people with a uterus born between 1973 and 1978 were diagnosed with endometriosis by the ages of 40 to 44. While the statistics are high, it should also be noted that people may struggle for years to get an accurate diagnosis. Before we look at the social barriers to diagnosing endometriosis, we need to have a better understanding of what endometriosis is.

What Is Endometriosis and What Are the Symptoms?

As mentioned above, endometriosis is caused by the growth of endometrial-like tissue in the pelvic region. It grows in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the lining between the abdominal and other pelvic cavities. This tissue is similar to that which forms the lining of the uterus, and as such, it responds to the hormones released by the ovaries. This response triggers bleeding and inflammation, which ultimately leads to scarring, joining the pelvic organs, which are supposed to be separate. 

Symptoms of endometriosis:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Reduced fertility
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Painful periods
  • Painful sex
  • Back pain 
  • Intestinal problems
  • Lethargy

*Some people with endometriosis may experience few to no symptoms

The Barriers to an Endometriosis Diagnosis

Sadly, several factors contribute to delays in diagnosis. In Australia, on average, there is a seven-year delay between the onset of symptoms and people receiving a diagnosis. In the meantime, it affects every aspect of the person’s life, such as their emotional wellbeing, productivity, and ability to participate in school, work, and sporting activities. Despite the far-reaching effects of endometriosis, the disease is under-researched due to a lack of funding. Ultimately this has slowed down the innovation required to improve treatment and diagnosis. 

Other social barriers to diagnosis include the stigma attached to menstruation, the normalisation of pain, and the lack of non-invasive means to diagnose the condition.

The Social Stigma Surrounding Women’s Health

Another well-documented barrier to diagnosis is the clinical gender bias people experience when the patient’s pain is dismissed or not adequately treated. It is not uncommon for doctors who do not know enough about endometriosis to trivialise a patient’s pain and even refuse a referral to a specialist. This is often remedied by seeking a second opinion, and more importantly, going to a doctor or healthcare centre which is dedicated to gynaecological health. Specialist doctors such as gynaecologists should be better equipped to diagnose, manage, and treat endometriosis because it is actually widespread. The best healthcare for any patient is rooted in a patient-centric approach to diagnose, manage, and treat endometriosis accurately. 

Diagnosing and treating endometriosis is not necessarily straightforward as each patient will have a different range of symptoms, types, and stages; however, the right medical professional can make all the difference. OMNI offers non-invasive diagnostics based on their vast wealth of knowledge and experience in the field of gynaecology and endometriosis. For medical assistance in these matters, get in touch with OMNI today to book an appointment. 

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St Leonards Clinic
Telephone

1300 851 968

Fax

1300 851 971

Address

Ground Floor
Suite 2/8 Northcote St
St Leonards NSW 2065

Penrith Clinic
Telephone

1300 851 968

Fax

1300 851 971

Address

Level 2, Suite 2.01
Somerset Hospital, 38 Somerset Street
Kingswood NSW 2747

SYDNEY CBD ULTRASOUND CLINIC
Telephone

1300 851 968

Fax

1300 851 971

Address

Suite 1005, Level 10
229 Macquarie St
Sydney NSW 2000

OMNI Ultrasound & Gynaecological Care