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 draft quality standard on endometriosis which sets out the priority areas for improvement in patient care. The draft quality standard is out for public consultation until 16 March 2018.
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.