A worldwide collaborative effort for the purpose of gaining knowledge about the ways in which endometriosis impacts on women’s lives has drawn attention to the suffering endured by women with the condition, who are said to number upwards of 176 million.
Dr. Kelechi Nnoaham reported on the findings of this study at the 26th annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. Nnoaham is affiliated with the University of Oxford, UK’s Department of Public Health. Dr. Nnoaham said that the study, which involved many researchers from institutions around the world, would help expose the heretofore unnoticed plight of the extensive number of women who are affected by this painful condition.
The inflammatory disease known as endometriosis is quite painful and lasts throughout a woman’s childbearing years. In endometriosis, cells resembling those of the lining of the uterus (endometrium) grow outside of the uterus on other organs. Most often, these endometrial cells grow on organs in the pelvic cavity, though it is possible for them to grow anywhere in the body, for instance on the lungs, bladder, and bowel.
Dr. Nnoaham and his colleagues enrolled 1,459 endometriosis patients aged 18-45 for the purpose of participating in the Global Study of Women’s Health (GSWH). The women had all been scheduled for laparoscopic surgery. The participants were culled from patients at 14 different medical institutions located in ten countries that span five continents.
Women who had already received a confirmed diagnosis of endometriosis were excluded from the study. The participants filled out a very detailed questionnaire on the topic of their symptoms and their impact on their everyday lives. After the participants underwent laparoscopy, their results on the questionnaires were correlated to the diagnoses generated by the surgical procedure. Women who were found not to have endometriosis during laparoscopy served as a control group.
According to Dr. Nnoaham, the distinguishing factor about this study is that it differentiates between the quality of life reported by women with chronic pelvic pain which covers a multitude of ailments and that of women with confirmed endometriosis-related pelvic pain. GSWH did indeed show differences between the experiences of these two groups. The women with endometriosis lost on average 10 hours of work productivity per week in comparison with a loss of seven hours weekly in those women who suffered from pelvic pain unrelated to endometriosis. This loss of work productivity was related mostly to a reduction in productivity rather than from lost work days (absence from work).