“Another morning with pain,” groaned Marla as she awoke, thinking this was the third day in a row she felt this bad. Marla was having her period, but even between periods, Marla felt discomfort in her pelvic area. A hint that it was more than her period. If you feel discomfort (at best) and real pain (at worst) along with serious bleeding during your period, you’d see your gynecologist. Right? Not necessarily, says the research.
A series of studies around the world report a delay of more than 9 years from the time a woman first feels the effects of endometriosis until treatment begins. Endometriosis is the result of tissue that normally grows inside the uterus, beginning to grow outside.
Despite the fact that endometriosis is
one of the most treatable causes of infertility,
it is one of the least treated.
WHY WOMEN WAIT
o About 50% of women have pain of some type during their period. Young women have heard that menstrual periods are painful, and they simply may believe what they’re feeling is “normal.”
o Physicians reportedly may also find teens less persuasive and convincing when they discuss their symptoms.
o Yet, 70% of teens, who complain of some type of menstrual pain (and receive treatment), are ultimately found to have endometriosis.
o Pelvic pain can have many causes – from endometriosis to fibroids or organ prolapse.
o While Gynecologists are trained to isolate and identify problems, such as endometriosis, physicians who are not OB/GYNs may not have the same level of training in women’s diseases. In one survey, 63% of general practitioners said they felt “ill at ease” diagnosing and treating endometriosis.
o Women were correctly diagnosed sooner if they described the symptoms as fertility-related, rather than related to their menstrual periods.
Level of education doesn’t appear to be a variable; women of all educational levels seemed to record similar delays in seeking help.
REASONS NOT TO WAIT
“More than half the delay in women being treated for endometriosis was simply waiting to see their doctor for years,” says McLeod Gynecologist Charles Tatum, MD. “The sooner you see your Gynecologist, the quicker you’ll find relief from your discomfort and pain – even if it’s something other than endometriosis.”
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Sources include: McLeod Health, National Institutes of Health, Endometriosis.org, North American Endometriosis Association, Human Reproduction, Endometriosis foundation of America, New England Journal of Medicine