Irish women's experience of endometriosis

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Sheehy, Deborah
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BA Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Endometriosis is a major cause of chronic pain and infertility in women. The objective of this study was to examine the experiences of women in Ireland who have been diagnosed with this disorder and see if it contributes to their diminished functioning and sense of well-being. 74 women who are members of the Endometriosis Association of Ireland participated in this sway by completing a confidential questionnaire that was designed to examine the multi-faceted dynamics of their experiences including the physical, medical, social, emotional and psychological. Results show that a very significant number of participants (between 60% to 100%) are in physical pain, have low energy levels, experience side-effects to their treatment, feel their symptoms are minimised by others and do not think that there is a good level of public awareness of this disorder. They think the medical community needs to be more informed about the disorder and believe that their feelings have been dismissed by them. Findings show that the disorder interferes with their relationship with their partner, their sexual functioning, their family, friends and their place of work. The disorder significantly affects their quality of life, their normal daily activities, their emotional wellbeing, self-esteem, empowerment, their sense of role as a woman and their social activities. A significant finding was the length of delay between onset of symptoms and diagnosis. Results show an average of 6.6 years with a tendency for younger women who present with symptoms to experience longer delays in diagnosis than older women who do. This is the first research study of its kind on the experiences of women with endometriosis in Ireland.