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Educating and training nurses key to timely diagnosis of endometriosis

Endometriosis UK has called for increased education and training on endometriosis and menstrual health for nurses, to reduce diagnosis time for the condition

A new report by Endometriosis UK has called for increased education and training on endometriosis and menstrual health for nurses to reduce long waiting times for a diagnosis.

According to the study, the diagnosis times in the UK have worsened over the last 3 years, increasing to an average of 8 years and 10 months, an increase of 10 months since 2020.

The chief executive of the charity, Emma Cox said it is ‘unacceptable’ for a diagnosis of endometriosis to take nine years. ‘Our finding that it now takes even longer to get a diagnosis of endometriosis must be a wake-up call to decision-makers to stop minimising or ignoring the significant impact endometriosis can have on both physical and mental health,’ she said.

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Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the womb lining grow elsewhere, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes, and can affect fertility. Symptoms include painful periods, painful bowel movements, pain when urinating and pain during or after sex.

The condition impacts 1 in 10 women, and lengthy delays in diagnosis could lead to worsening physical symptoms and a risk of permanent organ damage. To reverse this trend, the report recommends ‘making sure all healthcare practitioners - with a particular focus on nurses - receive education and training on menstrual health and endometriosis awareness’.

Joanna Hanley, endometriosis specialist nurse, Endometriosis UK specialist advisor, and NHS advanced clinical practitioner told Independent Nurse that nurses are at the ‘forefront of patient care, we are educators, advocates and have an essential role in the assessment and planning of patient care.’

‘By increasing awareness of endometriosis amongst the wider nursing workforce, we are empowering nurses with the skill set and confidence to advocate for their patients. This will help reduce diagnosis times, improve access to treatment and ultimately improve quality of life with improved symptom control,’ said Joanna.

The report calls for more investment in services to ensure healthcare professionals have the right equipment and training to achieve timely diagnosis. ‘Endometriosis UK asks for increased funding within menstrual health, which will support nurses expand their knowledge and skill set, and completion of specialised teaching programmes will only improve quality of care across the workforce,’ said Joanna.