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About women’s health: how is endometriosis is diagnosed ABOUT WOMEN’S HEALTH: HOW IS ENDOMETRIOSIS IS DIAGNOSED
There is no simple and accurate test which can be used to detect endometriosis. The only reliable way to diagnose the condition is by observing the implants during a minor operation known as a laparoscopy.
The diagnosis usually involves several stages which may include some or all of the following:
* reporting your symptoms to a doctor
* giving a history of your symptoms
* having a physical examination
* having an ultrasound
* having a laparoscopy
* taking a biopsy during a laparoscopy.
An early diagnosis is important as endometriosis is generally thought to be a progressive condition in which treatment is more effective in the early stages. If the progression of the condition can be stopped, or at least slowed down, then the likelihood of developing long-term complications such as infertility, adhesions and chronic pain is reduced.
For many women the road to a diagnosis is often long and it is not uncommon for women to see several doctors regarding their symptoms over a number of years before a diagnosis is made. In a survey conducted by the Endometriosis Association (Victoria), the average time between the onset of symptoms and diagnosis was over six years.
The long delay in diagnosis experienced by many women is partly due to the fact that endometriosis is often difficult to diagnose, especially in the early stages. The symptoms are easily confused with several other conditions and some doctors are not fully aware of the range of possible symptoms. In addition, a pelvic examination often appears normal.
Unfortunately, the diagnosis of endometriosis is also sometimes affected by doctors' attitudes to the symptoms. Many doctors do not take women's and teenager's symptoms, such as period pain, seriously. Like many people in our community, they tend to assume that period pain is normal or psychological.
Doctors often do not consider a diagnosis in women and teenagers who do not conform to the traditional stereotype of women with endometriosis. Consequently, teenagers and women under the age of 25, women who have had children and women from lower socio-economic backgrounds are often simply not considered for a diagnosis.
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