Time for action on endometriosis

Paul Hayes

17/04/2018 3:38:48 PM

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel has commended Australia’s health ministers for taking action on endometriosis, which he describes as a ‘severe and often silent’ health concern for women throughout the country.

Endometriosis affects one in 10 Australian women of reproductive age.
Endometriosis affects one in 10 Australian women of reproductive age.

‘I congratulate Federal Health Minster Greg Hunt and his state and territory counterparts on taking steps to help ease the painful suffering of so many Australian women,’ RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel told newsGP. ‘Endometriosis often goes undiagnosed for several years, and the pain women experience can be all-consuming.
‘We in the healthcare profession have a responsibility to act, to do all we can to help identify and ease that anguish.’
Last week’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council in Sydney saw the green light given to the Endometriosis Action Plan, which will help GPs to provide quality care for women with endometriosis by addressing gaps in medical training, support and care. According to the COAG communique, ‘the Commonwealth will provide the draft action plan to jurisdictions to identify further key areas of research, awareness and education, and clinical management and care that may contribute to the action plan under development’.
‘The RACGP welcomes this announcement and looks forward to working with the Federal Government on developing the best possible action plan for endometriosis, including increased awareness and earlier diagnosis,’ Dr Seidel said.
Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue is found outside of the uterus. During the menstrual cycle, the tissue that lines the uterus breaks down, bleeds and leaves the body. But the blood from the extra tissue outside the uterus remains inside, causing inflammation and often significant pain.
Although endometriosis is a relatively common condition in Australia, affecting one in 10 women of reproductive age, the path to diagnosis can be a long one, often as many as seven years.
‘It can take an average seven years to diagnose endometriosis,’ Dr Vanda Fortunato, Chief Executive Officer of national not-for-profit organisation Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, told newsGP in December last year. ‘Women with endometriosis can have painful and heavy periods, chronic pain, painful sex and issues with fertility.
‘Delays in diagnosis can also mean symptoms get worse over time, with a significant impact on a woman’s quality of life.’

COAG-health-council endometriosis endometriosis-action-plan

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