Endometriosis affects one in 10 women in the UK, yet treatment for the condition is "unacceptable" and many are struggling to be given an accurate diagnosis , MPs have found.
40% of the 2,600 women who spoke to the All Parliamentary Group on Women's Health (WHAAPG) said they had seen a doctor 10 times before being diagnosed. More than two thirds of women got such poor information from their doctor they had to do their own research to find out more, while around one in eight suffering or fibroids had to wait up to two years for a correct diagnosis.
Endometriosis is a common condition where tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb is found outside the womb, according to the NHS. There is currently no cure and treatment usually involves a mixture of painkillers and hormone treatment to prevent it from interrupting daily life.
The condition can lead to painful bleeding, stomach aches and difficulty getting pregnant, but some women have reported that they are told there's "nothing wrong" despite suffering from these symptoms.
Paula Sherriff MP, chair of WHAAPG, says she was told to "put up" with the pain she felt after she developed endometriosis and has been left "shocked" by similar stories from other women.
"I am sure this sort of thing would not happen if men had periods," Sherriff told The Telegraph. "The statistics in this report show that women are all too often dismissed by healthcare professionals when discussing their symptoms and choices.
"The fact that almost 50 per cent of women did not feel that they were treated with dignity and respect is appalling.
"It's important that we lose the taboo about talking about these conditions so women can feel empowered."
23-year-old Amy Maidment, from Oxford, said she "suffered terribly" yet she was told that her symptoms were "in her head".
"I was in utter agony, and because it was a pre-existing long term condition, there was nothing that A&E could do for me when I sat there nearly passing out from the pain," she told the WHAAPG.
London-based Katie, 25, visited her doctor nine times before she received a diagnosis, BBC Newsbeat reports.
"There were things that they were throwing out there like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or saying some people just get bad periods and you're just one of the unlucky ones," Katie, who shares regular updates about the condition on Instagram. "One doctor told me to stop doing sit-ups because it was all muscular."
The WHAAPG is calling for GPs to be specifically trained in recognising endometriosis and recommends that surgeries offer women improved information about gynaecological issues to keep them better informed about symptoms and treatment.
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