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March is Endometriosis Action Month, dedicated to raising awareness about this debilitating but underreported condition.
Previously named Endometriosis Awareness Month, last year the charity Endometriosis UK renamed the event, stating that “Awareness only goes so far – what those with endometriosis need and deserve is tangible action and positive changes to improve care and support.”
Endometriosis is a chronic medical condition where tissue that would normally be found in the uterus grows in other parts of the body, including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and bowel.
Symptoms of endometriosis vary widely, but often include heavy, irregular periods with intense cramps (that restrict normal activity), pain in the stomach and lower back, pain when going to the toilet or having sex, and intense bloating.
Around 176 million reproductive-aged women and girls globally are estimated to be affected by endometriosis, and 1.5 million in the UK alone.
However, when many sufferers go to the doctor or GP to report painful periods or problems with their menstrual cycle, they are often dismissed or told that the extreme pain they feel is normal.
Even those who are listened to find the journey towards getting a formal diagnosis and treatment is agonisingly long. The average time it takes to get an endometriosis diagnosis in the UK is currently 8 years, often followed by a long wait for treatment.
As a result, people find themselves living in pain, which often affects their personal and intimate relationships, work, and even their ability to do seemingly simple things such as leaving the house or socialising.
Hannah Carr is an expert women’s health solicitor and was recently promoted to Director of Novum Law in recognition of her work supporting people whose gynaecological issues have been, misdiagnosed, or mistreated by medical professionals. She says:
“Sadly, the failures in education, support, diagnosis and treatment surrounding endometriosis are all too familiar when it comes to women’s health.
“Despite the severe pain endometriosis causes to 1 in 10 women and girls, it feels that there is a long way to go before this pain is taken seriously by many medical professionals. This is unacceptable.
“Many of my clients at Novum Law have been made to suffer simply because they were not listened to, and not given appropriate treatment in a reasonable timescale. This must change.
“This month, we are joining Endometriosis UK to call not just for awareness but for action. It’s time that real progress was made, and that people with endometriosis are listened to and supported.”
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