Some time ago the Global Study of Women’s Health (GSWH) was started by the World Endometriosis Research Foundation (WERF). This study recruited 1418 women aged between 18-45 from 16 different countries around the world. The study used questionnaires to assess the impact endometriosis on their lives. During the 26th meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology some of the preliminary results of this study were announced. The main press release for these results can be found by following this link. However, I’ll summarise a few of them now.
Average time between onset of symptoms and diagnosis was found to be 7 years. This is a saddening but fairly typical result.
65% of the women with endometriosis presented with pain. The press release doesn’t go into detail as to what type of pain was most prevalent, but I can take an educated guess at dysmenorrhoea (heavy, painful periods) and dyspareunia (painful intercourse) being at the top of the list.
The stage of endometriosis was not related to the amount of pain the woman suffered. This echoes the findings of previous studies; in fact some studies have suggested minimal endometriosis can be more painful than severe forms of the disease.
The pain decreased productivity at work by 38%, this loss of productivity was actually due more to problems at work rather than time off for illness. That 38% equated to around 11 hours per woman week lost to endometriosis. Now let’s do some quick calculations. There are an estimated 2 million endo sufferers in the UK, each losing 11 hours per week, that’s 22,000,000 woman hours of work lost each week or just over 1 BILLION woman hours lost every. Single. Year. For the USA that number goes up to approximately 30 BILLION woman hours per annum. These are the sort of statistics politicians are really interested in, so if you bump into your MP or Senator or Mayor and you really want to get their attention, shove some of those statistics in their face.
The study also found that non-job related activities such as exercise, housework, childcare, shopping, studying etc were also severely affected by the pain caused by endo, but you probably already knew that.
On a different but quite similar note there have been a series of talks on endometriosis from the Endometriosis Foundation of America which make for very interesting watching (I would advise watching the videos instead of reading the transcripts as some of them have been improperly transcribed). Here is the link to the video gallery.