Nearly half of women in the UK need to visit their GP 10 times before being diagnosed with common gynaecological complaints, with doctors often telling patients their symptoms are “all in their head”, MPs have found, reports The Daily Telegraph.
A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Health (WHAAPG) found that doctors are failing to treat women with dignity or respect when it comes to female issues.
Some women reported feeling they were “going mad” after being continually told by their GPs that there was “nothing wrong”, despite years of painful symptoms.
Around 2m women in Britain – one in 10 – suffer from the condition endometriosis, where womb tissue grows outside the uterus, leading to painful bleeding, stomach aches and potential infertility. Yet a survey of 2,600 women found that 40% had to visit their GP ten times or more times before they were referred to a gynaecologist, while one in three was forced to seek a second opinion.
The report says more than two thirds of women got so little information from their doctor they had to look for help online, while around one in eight suffering endometriosis or fibroids had to wait between one and two years for a correct diagnosis.
“I was shocked by some of the stories we heard,” said Paula Sherriff MP, chair of WHAAPG who herself was told she should “just put up with” the pain she experienced after developing endometriosis.
Sheriff said it was difficult to break the taboo surrounding women’s issues, particularly in Parliament, where she said male MPs still “scuttle off” when female problems are discussed.
The report says the WHAAPG is recommending that GPs are specifically trained in recognising endometriosis and say surgeries should offer women written information about gynaecological issues which spell out conditions and treatment options. They are also calling for better education for teenage girls in secondary school so they can tell when symptoms are not part of a normal monthly cycle.