MPs call for 'bold action' from government to support women living with endometriosis

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger

The government is being urged to take "bold action" to support the 1.5 million women in the UK living with endometriosis.

A report by MPs has highlighted the "devastating impact" of the condition, and found no improvement has been made in its diagnosis in the past decade.

Endometriosis is a medical condition where tissue - like that of the lining in the womb - starts to grow elsewhere in the body.

Charity Endometriosis UK estimates one in 10 women in the UK "endure unrelenting pain" every day as a result of the condition.

Credit: ITV West Country

Surveying more than 1,000 women, the all-party parliamentary group (AAPG) found it still takes an average of eight years for an individual to get a diagnosis of the condition - despite more than 50% of those with endometriosis having attended A&E ahead of diagnosis.

Chair of the APPG on endometriosis, Sir David Amess MP, said the report showed "the huge, life-long impact" of endometriosis.

"It is not acceptable that endometriosis and its potentially debilitating and damaging symptoms are often ignored or not taken seriously – or downplayed as linked to the menstrual cycle and periods," he said.

Dr Larisa Corda has more on the latest report:

He stressed one of the starkest findings of the survey: "Only 19% of those who responded to the survey knew they were seen by a specialist centre, and 90% would have liked access to psychological support yet this was never offered."

Recommendations made to the government include:

  • A commitment to reducing average diagnosis times

  • Establishing a baseline for the diagnosis, treatment and management of endometriosis based on NICE guidelines

  • Investing more funds into researching the condition

The group also stressed the need for more research of the experiences of endometriosis sufferers from LGBTQ+, black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women from puberty to menopause. Credit: PA

Emma Cox, CEO of Endometriosis UK said the report "should be the final warning" to the government and NHS bodies.

"The average diagnosis time for endometriosis remains at eight years – shockingly, it’s not changed in a decade. Action must be taken to drive this down," she said.

"The post code lottery of access to healthcare practitioners who specialise in endometriosis needs to end."

  • What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is where cells and tissue usually found in the lining of the womb starts to grow elsewhere in the body.

These cells behave in the same way as those in the womb, but unlike a period, have no way of leaving the body.

It is estimated one in 10 women have endometriosis. Charity Endometriosis UK says those with the condition "endure unrelenting pain" everyday as a result.

It can be debilitating, have a huge impact at work, and those with the condition can need frequent access to a toilet due to bowel or bladder related symptoms.

Credit: ITV West Country
  • What are the symptoms?

The symptoms and its impact differ person to person, but common symptoms include chronic pelvic pain, extreme period pain, fatigue, bladder and bowel related problems, organ damage and infertility.

  • What is the treatment?

Endometriosis UK says there is currently no cure for the condition but stressed treatment can "reduce the severity of symptoms and improve quality of life" for sufferers.

Hormone treatments, attempting to block or reduce the production of oestrogen in the body, can help those with the condition.

Pain relief including the use of heat, painkillers, physiotherapy, pain modifiers and/or TENS machines are also used as options for treatment.

Surgery is also an option for women with endometriosis - areas with the affected tissue are surgically removed.

Endometriosis UK is a charity that offers support to women suffering from the chronic condition.