Objectives: Endometriosis is a long term, disabling condition, and a common cause of chronic pelvic pain. Symptomatic disease is usually characterised by pelvic and abdominal pain, lower back pain, and dyspareunia, all of which may be severe and debilitating. Yet the time between onset of symptoms and diagnosis is frequently a number of years, and many women report negative experience within the primary care setting. This paper explores the experience of women with endometriosis in the primary care setting.
Study design: A qualitative research design was considered appropriate to elicit the experience of endometriosis and the impact on women's lives. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 30 women who suffer with endometriosis. The sample was recruited via a dedicated endometriosis clinic in the English Midlands, and participants had all been diagnosed laparoscopically with endometriosis.
Results: Participants described diverse experiences within the primary care setting. Although some women reported a positive relationship with their general practitioner, over half had had negative experiences, which they felt had contributed to delays in them receiving a diagnosis of endometriosis.
Conclusion: The delay in diagnosis can be reduced and perceived attitudes of general practitioners towards women presenting with endometriosis can be improved by being alert to certain symptomology, and by detailed and sensitive history taking.