Women with endometriosis – where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in places such as ovaries and fallopian tubes – are losing £41,000 in earnings while waiting an average seven-and-a-half years for a diagnosis, new research has found.
According to Standard Life, sufferers fork out an average of £5,469 a year in lost earnings due to time off work, which works out to more than £40,000 in total.
Endometriosis affects around 176 million women worldwide but women living with the condition may have to wait several years before being diagnosed.
This is because symptoms of endometriosis are similar to those of other conditions, Endometriosis UK explains.
Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrium, a tissue found inside the uterus, grows in other areas of the reproductive system such as in and around the ovaries and the fallopian tubes. This can cause debilitating period pain, pelvic pain and pain during sex.
Standard Life analysts drew on data from Belgium’s KU Leuven university, which investigated the financial impact of endometriosis among 909 women in 10 countries.
The company’s own research for November’s Endometriosis UK conference found that nine out of 10 people with endometriosis believe living with the condition has a detrimental impact on their finances.
The condition is estimated to cost the economy approximately £8.2bn a year, due to treatment, healthcare costs and the impact of sufferers having to take time off work.
Andrew Horne, professor of gynaecology at the University of Edinburgh and trustee of Endometriosis UK, explains the importance of diagnosing endometriosis as quickly as possible.
“1.5 million women in the UK have endometriosis, and yet it still takes an average of seven-and-a-half years to get a diagnosis, which is absolutely shocking and needs to be addressed.
“During this time, women with the condition often live with debilitating pain, may have difficulty getting pregnant, and sometimes lose their relationships and livelihoods.”
He stresses GPs need to be able to recognise the signs of the condition, so that they can provide early and accurate diagnoses.
Endometriosis UK is running the sixth Worldwide Endo march on 23 March in Cardiff.
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