Endometriosis can be a serious condition that causes chronic pain and other issues. For many women, chronic, debilitating pelvic pain is a sign that the condition has taken hold.
Despite that pain and many obvious signs, like excessive bleeding during menstruation and painful sex, are present, it still takes up to 12 years to get a diagnosis.
One of the problems, some claim, is that women who say they have pain but who have no obvious injury or illness, are dismissed as being hysterical or dramatic. Women are also more likely than men to be undertreated for pain when it occurs.
Endometriosis diagnoses are hard to obtain
For one out of three women, it will take three to four physician consultations before they’ll get a diagnosis. The actual diagnosis of endometriosis may not occur until after an exploratory laparoscopy, which would then show endometrial tissue outside the uterus and adhesions throughout the surrounding area.
A lack of training, awareness and gender bias all contribute to this delay in treatment. On top of that, fragmented care, which can occur when seeing multiple doctors, can make it hard to get a firm diagnosis.
Misdiagnoses can lead to severe issues for women
Unfortunately, failing to diagnose endometriosis can lead to severe problems for women. Infertility, depression and abnormal functioning of other organs, like the bowel or bladder, can occur. Many may choose to go through a hysterectomy to end their pain, but even that doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome.
Other severe complications might include the development of cysts or adhesions (fibrous scar tissue). These issues may result in frozen pelvis, sepsis if a cyst ruptures and other potentially life-threatening problems.
Endometriosis is potentially debilitating and may have a lasting negative impact on a woman’s life. For women who are dealing with this condition, it’s important to make sure you discuss your symptoms and ask for a referral to someone who could identify it. If you have sought help and were not given the correct tests or diagnostic procedures to identify the condition before it spread or caused further damage, then you may have a claim for medical malpractice. This is a relatively common condition, so not being able to identify it, especially once it is producing symptoms, is a red flag.