Staggering Cost Of Endometriosis For Aussie Women Revealed
Endometriosis is costing Australian women more than $30,000 every year.
That's enough for a brand new car, a pretty decent overseas holiday, or 125 years worth of the top-level Netflix subscription.
For Ellie Angel-Mobbs, it's the unsurprising figure women are spending to manage day-to-day pain.
"So I spend money on acupuncture, there's massaging, eating healthy, then going and seeing a specialist, there's the cost of ultrasounds, scans, tests," she told 10 daily.
"And the biggest one for me has been the surgeries."
Angel-Mobbs, a 2DayFM morning radio announcer, was diagnosed with stage four endometriosis when she was 26, after 10 years of incredibly painful periods.
Since then, she has undergone ten surgical procedures, a number of trips to the emergency room and a stint in intensive care.
In a bid to better understand the impact of the condition, researchers from Western Sydney University and the University of New South Wales surveyed more than 400 women either diagnosed with endometriosis or experiencing chronic pelvic pain.
The study, published in PLoS ONE on Friday, revealed patients incur an average cost of $31,000 per woman per year.
This money covers things including healthcare costs, employment-related costs and other costs related to childcare and household maintenance.
Endometriosis Australia director Donna Ciccia said the number isn't surprising.
"You know it's very expensive to have a chronic illness," Ciccia told 10 daily.
"You kind of go into denial and don't want to add it all up, because you would just be overwhelmed with how much money is spent in just trying to manage your symptoms."
Endometriosis, a chronic condition where tissue similar to that found in the lining of the uterus grows in other parts of the body, has no known cure.
It affects around one in ten women worldwide and often forces them to miss school or work due to debilitating pain.
It's here, researchers say, that women incur the biggest cost.
Though cost varied with pain level -- respondents with severe pain experienced around six times the cost of those with minimal pain -- 75 to 84 percent of costs were due to productivity loss.
"I don't think people are aware of how big an impact it has," Ciccia said.
"Some liken it to if you had a migraine or a headache and you were at work. How productive would you be during that time? You might be 80% present or you might be 60% productive."
Since beginning in radio at the age of 20, Angel-Mobbs said her entire career has been impacted by endometriosis.
"There was a time that I was actually told that I was about to run out of sick leave because I had been so, so sick," she said.
"To have that in the back of mind, that also put on the stress on top of trying to feel better."
The study's lead author, Dr Mike Armour, said the new findings highlight an urgent need for immediate policy action and more research into the condition and chronic pelvic pain, which places a "substantial" financial burden on Australian women.
With no cure currently available, treatment options largely include often highly addictive painkillers and invasive surgeries.
A national action plan with $2.7 million pledged for research was launched by Health Minister Greg Hunt last year, while an additional $10 million for "research and awareness" was announced this year.
The funds are incredibly important and very appreciated, Ciccia said, but are only the beginning of a long road.
"We still have a long way to go," she said.
"We don't know what causes it, we don't know how to prevent it, we've got no new innovative treatments, managing the symptoms, all of those types of things giving that quality of life to women and girls, we need substantial funding to find those answers."