Women can spend up to 10 years in crippling pain before endometriosis diagnosis

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Women can be left in crippling pain for up to a 10 years before being diagnosed with endometriosis, a health watchdog has warned.

The condition occurs when womb lining tissue is found in other parts of the body and begins covering the ovaries, fallopian tubes, parts of the stomach and bladder or bowel.

It can leave women suffering from chronic pain and enduring periods so painful that they are unable to take part in normal activities.

A watchdog has now issued new guidance for doctors to help speed up diagnosis and avoid GPs overlooking signs of the disorder.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said women wait between four and 10 years after first seeing a doctor with symptoms of the condition, with an average of seven-and-a-half years.

In the new guidance, NICE told doctors to consider endometriosis in women reporting even just one symptom, such as pelvic pain or very painful periods.

Professor Mark Baker, director of the centre for guidelines at Nice, said: “Delayed diagnosis is a significant problem for many women with endometriosis leading them to years of unnecessary distress and suffering.”

There is no cure for the condition, which can also affect fertility, but various treatments can east the symptoms – including surgery and painkillers.

The guidance suggested a number of ways of helping to diagnose endometriosis and warned it should not be ruled out even if abdominal or pelvic examinations or scans come back normal.

Endometriosis affects an estimated one in 10 women of reproductive age, with 1.5 million women in the UK thought to be sufferers.

In March, the All Parliamentary Group on Women’s Health said 40 per cent of women who gave evidence to it reported they had seen a doctor 10 times before being diagnosed.

Caroline Overton, chairwoman of the guideline committee, said: “There is no cure for endometriosis, so helping affected women manage their symptoms is imperative.”

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