How Endometriosis, a Common, Painful Condition Many Women Face, Can Impact Mental Health

Endometriosis is a common, often painful condition in which the type of tissue that forms the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) is found outside the uterus. The most common symptom of endometriosis is chronic pelvic pain, especially just before and during the menstrual period. Endometriosis is also associated with mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety, and a reduced quality of life.

About one in 10 women of reproductive age experience endometriosis and it is most often diagnosed in women in their 30s and 40s, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. An estimated 40% of women with infertility have endometriosis.

A recent meta-analysis of studies of women with endometriosis found that more than two-thirds (68%) had mild or high psychological stress. The authors recommended that interdisciplinary treatment should not only address pain management and potential infertility, but also mental health support. 

Potentially contributing to the psychological distress is the challenge many women face in even getting to a diagnosis. It is often years after symptoms begin before a diagnosis—delays of four to six years are common, according to recent studies. Among the reasons identified for the delays are patient issues such as stigma, embarrassment and uncertainty about normal versus abnormal symptoms, physician-centered causes such as normalization of symptoms, and lack of a non-invasive diagnostic test. Women’s significant chronic pain is often not understood, not taken seriously or dismissed as ‘typical menstrual pain’ by health care professionals…Read More

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