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07th Oct 2019

Half of endometriosis sufferers have experienced suicidal thoughts, finds new research

Half of endometriosis sufferers have had suicidal thoughts, new research has found.

In a survey of over 13,500 women in the UK who live with the painful condition, over half said it had caused them to contemplate suicide.

The research was carried out by the BBC and Endometriosis UK and is thought to be the largest ever study into the effects of disease on sufferers.

One respondent described endometriosis as feeling like “barbed wire wrapped around your insides and someone’s pulling it while at the same time an animal is trying to eat its way through you.” At one stage she tried to end her life with a drug overdose over the pain, she said.

The research also highlighted a lack on awareness around endometriosis, showing that it takes as average of 7.5 years for the illness to be diagnosed in the UK.

The study’s findings have prompted MPs in the British parliament to open an inquiry into women’s experience of the condition.


What is endometriosis?

It is an illness whereby womb lining (what women shed each month during their period) grows outside the uterus in other places in the abdomen, such as on the ovaries, bowels and fallopian tubes. It has no way of shedding each month and so builds up, leading to swelling and pain.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain in the abdomen and back
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Pain with bowel movements or urination
  • Excessive bleeding and bleeding between periods
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Other signs like fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea

Endometriosis is thought to affect up to one in ten women. There is no known cure for it but treatments like hormone therapy and surgery can help with the symptoms.

To find out more, read our full guide here.