A new research study conducted by the BBC has revealed the devastating impact endometriosis is having on women’s lives – including their education, career, sex life, and mental health, with around half stating they have experienced suicidal thoughts.
The experiences of more than 13,500 women with endometriosis in the UK were gathered, making it the largest study of its kind. Of those who took part nearly all said it had badly affected their career, sex life and mental health and most said it had impacted on their education.
In addition, the majority surveyed said they rely on prescription painkillers every month, including potentially addictive opioids and around half said they had experienced suicidal thoughts.
Endometriosis affects over 1.5 million women in the UK and the time to diagnosis time is on average 7.5 years.
Emma Cox, CEO of Endometriosis UK said: “This shocking new research is a stark reminder that both society and the NHS need to wake up and accept that endometriosis is a chronic condition that cannot be brushed under the carpet.
"The potentially devastating impact this condition can have on people’s physical and mental health cannot be overstated. Without investment in research, a reduction in diagnosis time and better access to pain management, women will continue to face huge barriers in accessing the right treatment at the right time.”
Endometriosis has significant impact on physical and mental health
Endometriosis UK is calling on the Government to face up to the reality that failing those with endometriosis impacts significantly on the economy, costing the UK £8.2bn a year in treatment, loss of work and healthcare costs, as well as with the significant impact on the individual’s physical and mental health, and ensure that:
- The NHS wakes up to the scale of endometriosis and plans services to support all those who need it.
- The NICE Guidelines on Endometriosis: Diagnosis and Management (2017) are properly implemented across the UK. These state the minimum care those with the disease should have access to, but have yet to be fully implemented.
- Invest in research, to find the cause of the disease, better treatment and management options, and one day a cure.
Minister for Women’s Health Caroline Dinenage said: "Too often across society women's bodies are seen as an inconvenience, with their symptoms and health concerns not taken seriously enough. Thankfully, awareness of endometriosis and other painful and debilitating menstrual conditions is increasing – but there is still a long way to go.
"I urge clinicians to play their part in breaking down the ongoing stigma around endometriosis by ensuring they follow NICE guidelines and encourage employers to rise to the challenge by creating supportive and flexible ways to help those living with these conditions.”
The APPG on Endometriosis has already committed to launching an inquiry into endometriosis which will follow the BBC’s research. Sir David Amess, Chair of the APPG on Endometriosis said that they will be launching an inquiry in the near future to hear from patients and healthcare professionals about their first-hand experiences, before making recommendations to the Government.