Women are needlessly suffering a crippling womb condition for up to ten years before they are diagnosed, the NHS watchdog says.
GPs and specialists frequently overlook the symptoms of patients who have endometriosis.
Late diagnosis means women go years without treatment or pain relief. Patients also say they end up with an illness that is more difficult to treat than if it had been recognised earlier.
Women are needlessly suffering from endometriosis it has been revealed
Up to one in ten women suffer from endometriosis, which causes severe pain, exhaustion and can lead to infertility.
Patients wait between four and ten years for a diagnosis and many have had to go back to doctors up to ten times.
The watchdog Nice has today issued guidelines to medical professionals to improve detection rates and spare women years of suffering and anxiety. The guidelines urge GPs to refer women for scans if they have symptoms such as pelvic pain, chronic tiredness or difficulty conceiving.
Doctors are told not to rule out the condition even if initial scans come back normal. Instead, they should refer women for further tests, including keyhole surgery.
Endometriosis occurs when cells similar to those in the lining of the womb grow elsewhere in the body, including the ovaries, bowel or bladder. Some women only have mild symptoms – while others have severe pain that can affect their quality of life and ability to conceive.
High-profile sufferers include singer and Strictly Come Dancing star Louise Redknapp and US actress Susan Sarandon. Singer Emma Bunton has also spoken out about the illness, as has American