Endometriosis affects over 1.5 million women in the UK, including the celebs Emma Bunton, Louise Rednapp and Kate Ford, who’ve opened up about having the condition. But did you know how debilitating it can be?
In a new research study by the BBC – the largest of its kind on the condition, more than 13,500 women shared their experiences of living with endometriosis and the devastating impact it can have on everyday life.
Nearly all of the women in the study said endometriosis had badly affected their career, relationships and mental health. Most revealed they rely on prescription painkillers every month, including potentially addictive opioids, and around half said they’d experienced suicidal thoughts.
Endometriosis is when tissue that’s usually found lining the womb grows elsewhere, causing inflammation, pain, and the formation of scar tissue.
According to the support charity Endometriosis UK, it affects one in ten women in this country and symptoms include chronic pelvic pain, heavy periods, painful sex and fatigue. Endometriosis can also cause bowel and bladder problems, depression and infertility.
One woman in the study described the pain of endometriosis as ‘10,000 knives were shooting up you.’ Another admitted she’d had multiple operations, been through two chemically-induced menopauses and is addicted to strong opioid medication to cope with her symptoms.
In the UK it takes an average of seven and a half years for a woman to be diagnosed and treatment may be hormone therapy, pain relief and surgery – including hysterectomy.
In light of this study revealing the extent at which women are suffering, experts are now calling for quicker diagnosis time, better access to pain management and more investment in endometriosis research.
‘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,’ said Emma Cox, CEO of Endometriosis UK.
‘The potentially devastating impact this condition can have on people’s physical and mental health cannot be overstated.’