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Endometriosis: When Women Aren't Taken Seriously

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by Rachel Gurevich, March 17, 2011

March is National Endometriosis Awareness Month, and I’m thinking about all those women who live with endometriosis every day. My heart today, however, is especially focused on those women who have endometriosis, but don’t know it yet. Could that woman be you?

According to, a survey in 2005 found that it takes an average of eight years for a woman to get a diagnosis of endometriosis. Eight years! Of these women, 65 percent get a misdiagnosis first, and up to 50 percent of women need to see five or more medical professionals before they get the care they need.

That is just … crazy!

Why Does It Take So Long to Get an Endometriosis Diagnosis?

The question I’m asking myself today is why? Why does it take so long to get diagnosed? And why do they need to see so many different doctors before something is done?
I’d like to say that it’s due to the complicated nature of endometriosis diagnosis, which can only officially be done through laparoscopy. Unfortunately, I don’t think that is the main problem.

I suspect the issue is that women are not being taken seriously.

The main symptom for most women with endometriosis, besides infertility, is painful menstrual cramps. Pain is a symptom that doctors are willing to take seriously if they can explain it easily, but if not, is often written off quickly as psychosomatic (ie, it’s all in your head) or not as bad as the patient is describing.

Women Not Take Seriously with Other Diseases, Too

A good example of women's pain not being taken seriously is with heart disease. According to, when compared to men, women experiencing heart attack symptoms are twice as likely to be sent home and not have their heart attack symptoms taken seriously. This makes women more likely to die from a heart attack than men.

It’s not hard to see how a woman complaining of cramps might be told to take it easy and use a hot water bottle, and then be written off as being a hypochondriac.

And how many times have women not been taken seriously when it comes to infertility? I have heard numerous stories, especially from younger women, about women going to their doctor with concerns about irregular cycles or trouble conceiving, only to be told to go home and keep trying — despite the fact that they have tried plenty long enough!

I say it’s time women are taken seriously. Medical care professionals, are you up for the challenge to listen?

And readers, what do you think? Have your symptoms of infertility or another medical condition not been taken seriously? What did you do? How did you get the help and care you needed? (Or didn’t you?) I’d love to read about your experience in the comments.

Comments (3)

i have endometreosis i think i spelled it right. lol. but anyways i've had it for more than 5 years at least and been dealing with it and it has been the worst time of my life and now my doctor that i've been seeing is droping me because i keep complaining of pain i just think these doctors don't know what to do with this diagnose, i asked or was going to ask about getting fmla papers to take some time off because i have other problems like my bones have been hurting and i've been getting headaches alot. i just haven't been myself lately and i'm just not fuctioning at all, i'm here to tell u that i have tried it all from the shots to the birth control almost everyone, to to surgerys, i mean everything the surgery helped for a min and then the symptoms came back. i;m not on anything because it made me worst from being sick to all other side effects. i just feel like these doctors don't understand and don't care or take it seriously because they are not in our shoes it hurts because u look to them for help and they send u back and fourth to the same doctors and also put u through the same test because they don't know what else to do. i hate it because i work and it is becameing hard for me to just get up every morning i hurt all the time not just on my periods thats what people is yet to know is that some people have pain all the time not only that but bad nausea, i mean very bad it kills me. my periods our twice in a mouth and i'm tired all the time. i need help because i'm ready to give up so badly, and also every i mean almost every food i eat makes my stomach upset or this hurting pain this is really killing me. please help me.

I was diagnosed with PCOS after four years. I had gained 80 lbs, and every doctor I went to wanted a food diary and looked at me like I was a liar when I told them about my gym routine. I thought I was going crazy as well, with all the work I was doing and yet gaining sometimes 10 pounds in a month!

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