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Misdiagnosis in women’s health: A barrier to the diagnosis of endometriosis

Endometriosis is a common disease where tissue similar to the womb’s lining grows outside it in other parts of the body. 

Nearly one million Australians live with the condition.

Endometriosis is often misunderstood and falsely diagnosed, as the symptoms can vary from person to person. This also can cause a delay in the initial diagnosis.

Endometriosis not only significantly impacts a woman’s quality of life, but it can lead to infertility, chronic pain and fatigue.

(Credit: Adobe Stock - Education Licence)

Current conservative treatments for presumed cases of endometriosis include pain management and birth control. However, both methods are flawed and can be entirely ineffective in the reduction of pain and fertility issues. Besides these methods, a laparoscopy, a form of keyhole surgery, is one of the only accurate methods of diagnosis for endometriosis.


“There is no mould to women with endometriosis,” said gynaecologist Dr Valeria Lanzarone in a medical webinar with Endometriosis Australia in 2023. She highlighted how it is important not to “dismiss” those who are seeking help for their symptoms.


Nathalie Orozco lives with endometriosis and appeared in a TEDx talk to share her journey. She addressed how she felt those who suffer from endometriosis are usually “dismissed”, as she was told she was “exaggerating” her symptoms and that it was “impossible” for the cause to be from her reproductive organs.


According to Orozco’s talk, the disease is “severely underfunded” and “under-researched”, as she highlighted it takes “6–10 years for women to be diagnosed”.


“I needed help, and no one was helping,” Ms Orozco said. 

“Medical professionals often overlook or downplay this condition due to a massive lack of education.” 

Ms Orozco was given different information by medical professionals including that she was experiencing “normal” period pain or a gluten intolerance. She was then prescribed different types of birth control pills.


Ms Orozco encourages those living with the condition to “never stop advocating for yourself” and “never stop fighting for answers”, and stressed the importance of making the illness more “visible”.

“We need a mental health support system behind us because we are most likely to develop anxiety and depression.” 

Endometriosis Australia is a charity that educates and raises funds for the disease. The charity advocated for the development of Australia’s first national action plan for endometriosis which is aimed at promoting overall awareness of the disease.

The stories shared by women like Nathalie highlight the urgency for increased awareness, education, and research. 

The hope is that these insights will lead to more timely diagnosis, effective treatments, and improved quality of life for those affected by this often misunderstood condition. 

These changes could create a future free from unnecessary pain and suffering, and one where their voices are heard, acknowledged, and empowered. 


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