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Need to improve dietetic representation in endometriosis

Endometriosis is a chronic gynaecological condition characterised by significant pain and infertility, which affects approximately 10% of women of childbearing age and up to 30-50% of women with infertility.1 Despite the high prevalence of the condition, it remains under-recognised and under-resourced in clinical practice.

The irritable bowel link: The symptoms of endometriosis include chronic pelvic pain arising from painful ovulation, painful periods, pain during or after sexual intercourse and infertility. These symptoms can considerably impact quality of life, and can be debilitating in terms of general physical, mental, social and financial wellbeing.2 A UK-based observational study, conducted in 373 women, suggested that 52% presented with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) type symptoms along with pelvic pain.3 A further study from Australia found that the low FODMAP diet appears effective in women with functional gut symptoms and endometriosis.4

Nutritional adequacy: An extensive healthcare professional and patient survey identified the need for symptom relief to be one of the top 10 priorities in endometriosis research in Ireland and the UK (published in the LANCET in 2017).5 A patient survey evaluating dietary patterns amongst women with endometriosis suggested that women felt symptom relief with individually adapted dietary modifications. The survey also underlined the lack of nutrition-related support from healthcare professionals.6

Unfortunately, the link between nutrients and dietary behaviours and endometriosis are based on weak scientific evidence, making it difficult to standardise dietetic practice. So, we are inviting you to participate in a survey, as we attempt to understand current dietetic practice in endometriosis.

Do you see patients/clients with endometriosis and gut symptoms? If so, please follow the link below to take part in our short survey, which is being conducted by dietitians from the BDA Maternal and Fertility Nutrition Specialist Group and the University of Plymouth.

To read more about the research click here.

To take part in the survey, click here.

Last date to complete the survey: 25th July 2021. Please forward the information to any UK dietetic colleagues who may be eligible to take part.

Our next steps: Alongside gaining feedback from dietitians, we are interviewing other endometriosis specialist healthcare professionals and conducting a patient-focused study in the next few months. For further information, please contact:

References: 1. Rogers PAW, et al.(2009). Priorities for Endometriosis Research: Recommendations from an International Consensus Workshop. Reproductive Sciences; 2. Conroy I, et al. (2021). Pelvic pain: What are the symptoms and predictors for surgery, endometriosis and endometriosis severity. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol.; 3. Lee CE, et al. (2018) Factors Associated with Severity of Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms in Patients with Endometriosis. J Obstet Gynaecol Can.; 4. Moore JS, et al. (2017).  Endometriosis in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: Specific symptomatic and demographic profile, and response to the low  FODMAP diet. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol.; 57(2): 201–205. 5. Horne AW, et al (2017). Endometriosis Priority Setting Partnership Steering Group (appendix). Top ten endometriosis research priorities in the UK and Ireland. Lancet; 389(10085): 2191–2192. 6. Vennberg KJ, Patel H, Premberg A (2020). Experiences of health after dietary changes in endometriosis: a qualitative interview study. BMJ Open; doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-032321.

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