Suspect endometriosis in women with chronic pelvic pain, says NICE.

Delayed diagnosis is a significant problem for women with endometriosis, NICE has said, as new guidance aims to raise awareness amongst healthcare professionals.

On average women wait 7.5 years between first seeing a doctor and getting a confirmed diagnosis of endometriosis. For many this leads to prolonged pain and a progressed condition which is more difficult to treat.

The NICE guideline aims to reduce diagnostic delays by highlighting the symptoms of endometriosis to doctors, such as pelvic pain, painful periods, and subfertility.

Professor Mark Baker, Director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, said: “Delayed diagnosis is a significant problem for many women with endometriosis leading them to years of unnecessary distress and suffering.

“The condition is difficult to diagnose as symptoms vary and are often unspecific. However, once it has been diagnosed, there are effective treatments available that can ease women’s symptoms. This guideline will help healthcare professionals detect endometriosis early, to close the symptom to diagnosis gap and to ensure more timely treatment.”

NICE has also published a quality standard on endometriosis which sets out the priority areas for improvement in patient care. 

Endometriosis develops when cells normally found in the womb are present elsewhere in the body such as the bladder or bowel. It is a chronic and long term condition that affects approximately 1 in 10 women of reproductive age in the UK.  

As one of the most common gynaecological diseases in the UK, it is vital that endometriosis is more widely recognised now.

Caroline Overton, Chair of the guideline committee and Consultant Gynaecologist

This guideline should help women receive prompt, evidence based treatment from professionals who have an expert knowledge of the condition.

Cathy Dean, Endometriosis Clinical Nurse Specialist at The Portland Hospital and member of the guideline development group

The new NICE guidance provides a welcome opportunity to raise the bar in endometriosis care and reduce diagnosis times through clarifying the care pathway patients should follow.

Emma Cox, Chief Executive at Endometriosis UK