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A step forward for endometriosis

Hon Steve Chadwick
Associate Minister of Health

18 August 2008 Media Statement
A step forward for endometriosis

Endometriosis New Zealand (ENZ) will receive support from the Ministry of Health to look at how best to raise awareness of endometriosis and reduce the burden of the condition, Associate Health Minister Steve Chadwick announced today.

“Many women are unaware they have the condition, but current estimates are that between 5 to 20 per cent of women of reproductive age do have it,” Steve Chadwick said.

“Endometriosis is a significant health issue for some women and is a leading cause of infertility, but some women only find out that they have it when they have trouble getting pregnant.

"The Ministry of Health has advised me that the best way to reduce the burden of endometriosis is to raise awareness of the condition and consequently reduce delays in diagnosis. It is therefore supporting ENZ to work with the health sector to explore the best approach for the diagnosis, management and referral of endometriosis, and to develop an education programme."

The Ministry of Health is providing $25,000 to ENZ to assist with the establishment of a project, and key activities include:

• research and data collection

• developing an Endometriosis Special Interest Group (ESIG) of gynaecologists and primary health professionals

• consulting with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of General Practitioners

• collaborating with ENZ regional support groups to reflect patient voices

• report findings to the Ministry of Health.

“Endometriosis can be a painful condition for women who experience it, and can reduce quality of life, so I am pleased that we are investing in the development of tools for better management of this condition.”

--

Background information

How many women does endometriosis affect?

As many women are unaware they have endometriosis, it is difficult to tell how common the condition is. Current estimates place the number of women with endometriosis at between 5 and 20 per cent of women of reproductive age. Between 40 and 60 per cent of women with painful periods have endometriosis.

What are the symptoms?

Endometriosis is a chronic condition, where fragments of endometrial-like tissue grow in places outside the uterus. These growths are usually found in the pelvic region on places such as the pelvic lining, ovaries, bladder and bowel. Occasionally endometrial deposits spread outside the pelvic region. Endometrial deposits respond to the same hormones as the endometrium, which means that they can enlarge, bleed and cause inflammation. Scar tissue and adhesions can often form as a result. A laparoscopy is required to diagnose endometriosis. Symptoms can often include: pain with menstruation and chronic pelvic pain.

Does it cause infertility?

About 30 to 40 per cent of women with endometriosis are infertile, and between 20 and 50 per cent of women who go for infertility treatment have endometriosis making it one of the leading causes of infertility. Some women do not find out that they have endometriosis until they have difficulty getting pregnant.

What is the best current form of treatment?

Treatment includes medical management mainly in primary health care, hormone treatment and/or surgery.


ENDS

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