Scientists from University College London have come up with a new set of guidelines to aid better diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis – a chronic condition that causes severe pelvic pain and reduces fertility in millions of women worldwide.
The physical, mental and social wellbeing impact could be great, and many women who suffer monthly bouts of crippling pain will heave a sigh of relief.
Endometriosis occurs when cysts of womb lining grow outside the uterus and “menstruate” each month causing swellings, pain and inflammation.
Professor Ertan Saridogan from UCL has been working with the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) and other members of the Guideline Development Group since 2003.
He says: “Having new clinical guidelines means better support and treatment for the millions of women who suffer from endometriosis, and do not get the attention they deserve.
“This new work expands on important issues such as clinical evidence in adolescents and postmenopausal women. It also outlines the diagnostic process, challenges the current laparoscopy and histology used as the overall gold standard diagnostic tests, and it evaluates surgical, medical and non-pharmacological treatments.”
For the past two years the Guideline Development Group – a collaboration between endometriosis specialists, pain specialists and other European medical and epidemiological experts and patient representatives – has been chaired by Professor Christian Becker of Oxford University. He says: “Endometriosis is a very common, but still highly underrepresented disease with often devastating outcomes for the patients and their families.
“Together with my colleagues we hope that the new ESHRE endometriosis guidelines will assist both patients and healthcare professionals in their decision-making and understanding of the condition.”
This wide-ranging collaboration helped to create the new ESHRE Guideline, including 109 recommendations on diagnosis, treatments for pain and infertility, management of disease recurrence, extrapelvic disease, endometriosis in adolescents and post-menopausal women, prevention, and the association with cancer.
Kathleen King, Irish endometriosis advocate and patient representative in the Guideline Development Group, added: “I welcome the publication of the current ESHRE endometriosis guidelines. The collaborative process involving patient representatives and medical professionals has produced a document that will become an essential part of the toolkit for those living with endometriosis symptoms.
“Patients can feel confident in using guidelines to open discussions with healthcare professionals, and in turn, their healthcare team has a guide based on current best practice and scientific information. I encourage all those with an interest to make full use of the guidelines.”