Women's history month kicked off with a bang this March as New Zealand doctors make health history for women. For the first time, doctors have introduced best-practice guidelines for diagnosing and treating endometriosis.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a painful disease that affects women. A woman is diagnosed with endometriosis when the tissue normally found inside the uterus, is found growing outside the uterus. Symptoms of the disease can include, but are not limited to:
severe menstrual periods
pain with intercourse
It's estimated that around 176 million women are affected by endometriosis. Unfortunately, due to the lack of conversation and awareness around the disease, most women go undiagnosed or their symptoms are misdiagnosed as "normal" period symptoms.
Endometriosis is no joke.
In fact, the disease is so serious that the quality of life with those living with endometriosis has often been compared to that of an individual living with diabetes. On average, it can take eight to nine years to diagnose a woman with endometriosis.
Even though New Zealand's principal guidelines are not clinical, they're a huge leap forward. Julie-Anne Genter, the minister for women and associate health minister hopes that these principals will only continue to shed light on the silent disease, telling The Guardian,
"Women's pain has been minimized for far too long because it is seen as 'only' women suffering. Endometriosis and pelvic pain are serious issues for many women and girls and our health system needs to do better. It is important that health professionals around the country know about this new guidance and they know what to do to recognize the symptoms. That’s why all the relevant colleges have been involved and will help ensure the guidance gets to everyone."
The country hopes that the new guidelines will help diagnose the disease at an early stage which will then reduce the symptoms and stigma around endometriosis.