Published Tuesday, 21 January 2014
Campaigners said thousands of women are suffering due to late diagnosis. (© UTV)
Patients are calling for quicker diagnoses of the debilitating condition, which can cause infertility, through better education of doctors and the establishment a regional clinic.
Endometriosis is a non-cancerous growth of abnormal tissue similar to the lining of the womb in the ovaries and pelvis area, which can spread to other parts of the body.
Belfast woman Nuala Campbell, who developed it when she was 15, had her uterus removed after years of suffering.
The 31-year-old make-up artist said: "Beforehand I was just trying to survive and get through the next hour. It was not life, it was just survival.
As the disease progressed, for the past seven years, that has been an everyday occurrence, to have to live with that meant every day was absolute hell.
"Around the time of the month I was hospitalised every single month, it was an unbearable amount of pain, absolutely excruciating."
One in 10 women of child bearing age in the region have endometriosis and one in 10 of those will have the moderate to severe form.
Dr Pamela Bell is part of the Pain Alliance of Northern Ireland, which is lobbying for the establishment of an integrated clinic to provide a good regional service.
She said: "Our key consideration is speeding up the time it takes to achieve a diagnosis, as there is a serious problem with misdiagnosis leading to delays in treatment.
"The often tragic outcome of that delay is the fact that many women are unable to have children by the time diagnosis is made and treatment provided."
A spokesperson for the Health Department said GPs regularly attend education sessions on a range of conditions and added that endometriosis could be included.
"The HSCB is satisfied that GPs are very aware of the possibility of endometriosis in females and there is a clinical pathway of treatment and referral that they follow," they continued.
"GPs attend regular education sessions through the year which covers the whole gamut of conditions that they encounter in practice. If deemed necessary, sessions on endometriosis could be included within this programme.
Pain Alliance Northern Ireland telephone: 0780 3293 793
"Endometriosis services are mainly provided in a primary care setting as the condition can often be managed by the prescription of painkillers; however, where more specialist input is required, GPs will refer the patient to the gynaecology service, where they can expect to be managed and treated on an individual basis according to the specialist's clinical judgement."
© UTV News