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Pelvic Pain Not in the Imagination

But survey finds doctors, family tell women their suffering is normal

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 30, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Many women who suffer chronic pelvic pain have been told by doctors, family and friends that their pain is normal.

That's what a survey presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine found.

The survey included 968 women, aged 15 to 59, who suffer chronic pelvic pain caused by endometriosis and/or post surgical scar tissue. The survey was conducted by the Endometriosis Association.

It found that nearly 60 percent of the women were told their pain was normal (56 percent of those by their obstetrician/gynecologist and 29 percent by family/friends) and 40 percent were told they exaggerate their pain (52 percent by their doctor and 43 percent by family/friends).

The survey results are cause for concern, given the impact pelvic pain can have on a woman's life, says Mary Lou Ballweg, president and executive director of the Endometriosis Association. She says many women are forced to alter their lives because of the debilitating effects of pelvic pain.

It often takes years for a woman with pelvic pain to be properly diagnosed, Ballweg says.

The survey found that 43 percent of the women described their pain as constant, and more than half described their pain as severe to unbearable. More than 80 percent of the women said they've been unable to work at times because of their pelvic pain, and 45 percent said they've been debilitated for two to three days or longer each month.

Chronic pelvic pain accounts for 12 percent of hysterectomies and 40 percent of laparoscopic surgeries.

More information

The Endometriosis Association offers diagnostic kits, information about choosing the right doctor and other educational literature for women suffering chronic pelvis pain. To get more information, go to the Endometriosis Association or call 1-800-992-3636.

SOURCE: Endometriosis Association, news release, October 2002
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