A recent study conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has revealed that approximately 14% of Australian women aged 44 to 49 have endometriosis, equating to one in seven women in this age group. Furthermore, the research showed that the rate of hospitalizations for endometriosis has doubled among women aged 20 to 24 in the past decade.
Endometriosis is a progressive chronic condition characterized by the growth of tissue similar to the lining of the uterus in other parts of the body. This can lead to inflammation, scarring, and the formation of painful adhesions between pelvic organs that are normally separate. Common symptoms of endometriosis include pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding between periods, abdominal bloating, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and reduced fertility.
The study found that diagnoses of endometriosis are more prevalent among younger women, with 9.2% of women born between 1989 and 1995 diagnosed by the age of 31, compared to 6.9% of women born between 1973 and 1978 at the same age. This increase in diagnoses may be attributed to greater awareness of endometriosis among the general public and healthcare professionals, leading to improved identification and reporting of the condition.
The diagnosis and management of endometriosis are complex, with an average delay of six to eight years between the onset of symptoms and diagnosis. In the 2021-2022 period, there were 40,500 endometriosis-related hospitalizations in Australia, making it the 20th most common reason for hospitalization among women aged 15 to 44. The rate of hospitalizations for endometriosis has nearly doubled over the past decade, with 310 hospitalizations per 100,000 females compared to 160 hospitalizations per 100,000 females in 2011-2012.
Significantly, the greatest increase in hospitalizations was observed among women aged 20 to 24, with the rate doubling between 2011-2012 and 2021-2022. Endometriosis was also identified as one of the leading causes of hospital admissions in this age group.
While the overall trend of endometriosis-related hospitalizations is on the rise, the study highlighted disparities in access to healthcare for different populations. First Nations peoples, individuals living in lower socioeconomic areas, and those in remote areas of Australia had lower rates of endometriosis-related hospitalizations. Further research is needed to understand the impact of endometriosis on these priority populations and to address barriers to accessing healthcare services.
It’s important to note that although the AIHW report uses the term “females” in its findings, it acknowledges that endometriosis can also affect transgender, non-binary, and gender-diverse individuals who were assigned female at birth.
– Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)