The Painful Cost of Having Endometriosis
As if having a painful disease such as endometriosis wasn’t enough, a new Australian study has just confirmed something most women with endometriosis know: It’s an incredibly expensive disease, not only for the patient, but for the entire society.
The study revealed that the average cost for having endometriosis for the woman and the cost to society equates to around AUD$30,000 every year in Australia (~$20,000 USD).1 This isn’t just out-of-pocket expenses, but it also factors in the cost of lost productivity. When women with endometriosis experience high levels of pain, many are unable to work to their full capacity.
The study - conducted by researchers at Western Sydney University in 2017 - surveyed approximately 400 women aged 18-45 who were diagnosed with endometriosis or experienced chronic pelvic pain to determine the cost relating to direct healthcare (such as medications and doctors visits), direct non-healthcare costs (such as transportation), and indirect costs such as loss of productivity due to pain which accounted for majority of the cost.2
The level of pain correlated to an increase in cost. In fact, severe pain resulted in a 6-fold increase in cost.1 Based on a prevalence of 10% of the female reproductive-aged population, the economic burden in Australia could be as high as AUD$9.7 billion per year for endometriosis.1
What other symptoms (besides pain) can impact women with endo?
Chronic pelvic pain was reported as the main factor contributing to economic burden for women and society in this study, but there are other endometriosis symptoms that can impact a woman’s life and financial situation. Some of the other symptoms reported include fatigue, urinary symptoms, digestive symptoms (such as nausea, diarrhea, and constipation), and psychological symptoms (such as high levels of stress, depression, and anxiety).3
The bottom line is that endometriosis is a multi-factorial, complex disease that is estimated to affect around 10% of the female population at a reproductive age. While it has financial consequences, it also has negative impacts on the physical, psychological, and social aspects of life.3
The high numbers reported in this study show that endometriosis has an extremely high impact not only on the women affected, but also their care providers and society.
Action on endometriosis has gained some momentum in Australia thanks to the Australian Coalition for Endometriosis and the Australian Government, who together have created the National Action Plan for Endometriosis - a five year strategy aimed at improving awareness, education, diagnosis, and treatment. It also covers research, which until recently, has received very little funding.4
One of the main problems reported by women with endometriosis is achieving adequate pain management. Additional funding into endometriosis research has the potential to provide greater insight as to what causes the disease, which will ideally help find improved methods of diagnosis (instead of invasive laparoscopy). It may also help find more effective pain management methods, which will improve the quality of life of patients, increase productivity, and reduce the financial burden.
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