Why Endometriosis is Often Diagnosed Incorrectly

Experiencing discomfort that is constant and debilitating is a motivating force behind scheduling a visit with your primary care provider. But upon arrival, and after an often hurried discussion, many women who have pain that isn’t explained by an apparent medical issue are left with fewer answers than they had prior.

Uncomfortable periods, pain during sex, nausea, shortness of breath, and persistent discomfort are all warning signs of endometriosis, but hundreds of thousands of women don’t know it exists.

Endometriosis is a widespread medical condition, impacting nearly 2 million women in the UK to date. The disease involves the tissue of the womb growing elsewhere throughout the body, like on the pelvis, the cervix, or the bladder, causing pain and ongoing discomfort that makes it difficult to function normally.

Endometriosis also leads to infertility, especially in women who are later in their reproductive years, leaving many with feelings of doubt and depression. Getting the correct diagnosis of endometriosis is key to improving a woman’s quality of life, but it isn’t easily done.

When a Wrong Diagnosis is Given

Endometriosis is a widely misunderstood disease because, for years, it was connected to a general diagnosis of “women’s troubles” surrounding menstruation. The stigma attached to painful periods was also linked to sexually transmitted infections, bladder conditions, urinary tract infections, and irritable bowel syndrome. Each of these medical issues has symptoms that mimic endometriosis in varied severity, but their treatment plans do little to nothing for women who have an actual diagnosis of the common condition.

Receiving a misdiagnosis initially is due to a combination of these often misunderstood issues. Recent statistics show that it takes an average of eight and one-half years to get a correct diagnosis along with the best plan of action for treatment. When a misdiagnosis takes place, women suffering from endometriosis may be given pain medication to help ease the discomfort they feel during their period or intercourse, or prescriptions to help with nausea or constipation. Unfortunately, some women are simply told to deal with their symptoms, as there isn’t a real diagnosis that can be provided, nor a treatment plan to follow. Misdiagnosis can lead to unnecessary suffering, and a drastically reduced quality of life for women without a clear path forward.

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