One in nine Australian women lives with endometriosis

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A new figure has been put on the number of women in Australia living with endometriosis.

Researchers of The University of Queensland found 1 out of 9 Australian women who were diagnosed with the inflammatory condition when they reach the age of 44.

The results were published in the Australian Institute of Health and Wellness Endometriosis in Australia: prevalence and hospitalizations relationship.

UQ Public Health School researcher Dr. Ingrid Rowlands he said he hoped that defining the prevalence of endometriosis in Australia could help increase understanding of the condition.

"Numbers like this show how relatively common the condition is: it is likely to affect a significant amount of women throughout life," said Dr. Rowlands.

"Endometriosis has been underestimated in both the social and medical communities – many people do not know what it is and doctors find it difficult to treat and manage patients who have symptoms.

"This low level of understanding has contributed to the lack of knowledge and research on the condition itself."

The inflammatory condition causes the growth of tissues similar to the lining of the uterus on other organs, including the ovaries, causing painful periods, heavy bleeding and possibly infertility.

"Some women may not be able to get out of bed because their symptoms are so severe: they may experience acute pain, irregular bleeding and intestinal disorders.

"Considering that other women are asymptomatic without pain or discomfort, so there are many variations to this complex condition.

"Symptoms of endometriosis can also mimic other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, so one of the major difficulties lies in the diagnosis, which can only be made through surgery."

Adds a layer of complexity to the diagnosis and is believed to have contributed to the estimates of previously weak data.

Endometriosis is a key part of the research program on women's health conducted by Australian longitudinal study on women's health director Professor Gita Mishra.

"These results highlight the importance of having accurate statistics and represent our first step in contributing to the national action plan on endometriosis," said Professor Mishra.

The team counted the number of women in the study who reported being diagnosed with endometriosis and linked this information to their medical records to determine the number of people affected.

"There were no updated and accurate estimates of the number of Australian women living with the condition before now," said Dr. Rowlands.

"We are trying to provide the best possible data to base ourselves on this action plan and to inform future health policies and practices.

"This is a debilitating condition for some women and it is so important to identify the number of women affected to move forward, assess their condition closely and help optimize results."

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