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Women in UK waiting almost nine years for endometriosis diagnosis, study shows

Getting a diagnosis for endometriosis in the UK now takes almost a year longer than before the pandemic

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Women in the UK are waiting nearly nine years for an endometriosis diagnosis, a new study has found.

The study by the charity Endometriosis UK revealed that getting a diagnosis for endometriosis in the UK now takes almost a year longer than before the pandemic.

The report showed that diagnosis times had significantly worsened over the last three years, increasing to an average of eight years and 10 months, an increase of 10 months since 2020.

This lengthy wait means a delay in accessing treatment, during which the disease may progress, leading to worsening physical symptoms and a risk of permanent organ damage.

“Taking almost nine years to get a diagnosis of endometriosis is unacceptable,” said Emma Cox, CEO of Endometriosis UK.

“Our finding that it now takes even longer to get a diagnosis of endometriosis must be a wake-up call to decision makers to stop minimising or ignoring the significant impact endometriosis can have on both physical and mental health.

“Now is the time to reverse the trend and make commitments to drive down diagnosis time for endometriosis and other menstrual health conditions.”

The research, based on a survey of 4,371 people who have received a diagnosis, found that 47 per cent of respondents had visited their GP 10 or more times with symptoms before being diagnosed, and 70 per cent had visited five times or more.

It showed that only 10 per cent of respondents reported that GPs mentioned they suspected endometriosis at either their first or second appointment where symptoms were discussed.

According to the report, more than half had visited A&E at least once and 17 per cent of those were referred to gynaecology at their first visit.

Around 78 per cent of people who later went on to receive a diagnosis of endometriosis had experienced one or more doctor telling them they were making a “fuss about nothing” or similar comments.

The report included examples of patients’ experiences, with many being told that their pain was “normal”. One woman said: “I was constantly dismissed, ignored and belittled by medical professionals telling me that my symptoms were simply due to stress and tiredness. I persevered for over 10 years desperate for help.”

Another said she had been told she was “being dramatic” after going to her GP as a teenager with painful periods. Another said: “A&E nurses told me that everyone has period pain so take paracetamol and go home.”

Endometriosis UK says, despite impacting 1.5 million across the UK, governments are failing to recognise the impact of endometriosis or allocate sufficient resources to diagnosing it.

The charity is calling on governments to commit a target of an average diagnosis time of a year or less by 2030 and urging NHS commissioners and providers to urgently reduce gynaecology waiting times.

In response to the report, Maria Caulfield, the minister for the women’s health strategy, said: “More must be done to improve women’s experiences of the healthcare system, and for those women suffering from endometriosis we have a long way to go. From getting an initial diagnosis to getting the right care and treatment, we must learn from this report.

“We launched our Women’s Health Strategy to do just this – listen to women. Endometriosis is a priority area within our strategy, so expect to see more in this space. In addition, we are rolling our women’s health hubs across the country to support more women with specialist care required with this condition.”

Ranee Thakar, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), added:“Endometriosis can have significant impacts on every aspect of women’s lives and timely diagnosis is crucial to ensuring that treatment and wider support can be in place to limit the progression of disease and manage symptoms.

“The barriers to timely diagnosis of endometriosis and other gynaecological health conditions are complex, but it is clear that more action is desperately needed.

“We need education and national communications campaigns to support women and girls to recognise their symptoms and feel confident seeking help. We need clinicians across the health service who listen to women and have the skills and expertise to diagnose and treat gynaecological conditions and we need investment in services to ensure that we have the right equipment and training for healthcare professionals to achieve timely diagnosis.”

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Singapore-based fertility centre sets up grant for couples struggling to conceive

This grant aims to support eligible Singaporean couples facing financial and family planning challenges

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A Singapore-based fertility centre is to set up a grant to support couples struggling to conceive.

Virtus Fertility Centre Singapore (VFCS) announced that it would set up a grant to support aspiring parents on their IVF journey.

The initial grant is set for at $50,000 SGD and, depending on the take-up rate over the next 12 fiscal months, VFCS plans to increase the pool to benefit more couples in the subsequent years.

The grant will cover the main costs associated with IVF treatments and procedures, including embryo retrieval and transfer, laboratory services and embryo prep. It will also be applicable to fresh and frozen egg transfers.

As grant recipients, their samples will similarly be given a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, a service VFCS provides for all its patients. It locks the patient’s identity with the respective sample. The RFID identifies gametes—eggs, sperms, or embryos—at every stage of the IVF treatment.

According to VFCS, the grant will also include access to counselling services and wellness resources.

“I’ve witnessed firsthand the emotional toll and occasional frustration that infertility can take on individuals and couples, especially for some who are still young and healthy,” said Dr Roland Chieng, medical director at VFCS.

“The common deterrent of going for fertility treatment is always associated with the cost, more so in a private care setting where their only source of funds is through Medisave.

“By alleviating their financial concerns, we hope ReadyBaby Fertility Grant empowers patients to approach their IVF journey, focusing on their clinical needs and working towards a healthy pregnancy and less on financials.

“With access to the necessary treatments and support, patients can embark on their path to parenthood with renewed confidence, knowing they have the clinical resources and guidance they need to navigate this journey,” he added.

Tim Kwan, VFCS’s managing director, said: “We believe every couple deserves the opportunity to experience the profound joy of parenthood.

“With the ReadyBaby Fertility Grant, we aim to support aspiring couples on their IVF journey and help them bring new life into the world.”

To be eligible for the grant, applicants must be married Singaporean couples diagnosed with medical infertility by a fertility specialist and first-time parents who have not tried IVF before.

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Canadian insurer launches partnership to support women’s health

Members of the Canadian insurer Medavie Blue Cross will have access to a dedicated women’s health platform

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Angela Johnson, co-founder and CEO of sanoLiving

The Canadian insurer Medavie Blue Cross (MBC) has partnered with the virtual health platform sanoLiving to support women on their menopause journey.

Currently, more than 10 million Canadian women are navigating menopause, often with little support and misinformation about treatments.

With sanoMidLife, sanoLiving’s online menopause platform, Medavie Blue Cross members will have access to a national women’s health platform tailored to provide care and services for women going through the menopause.

The service includes personalised assessments, access to clinicians, treatments, educational content, peer support and AI assistance.

“Many women lack support for their menopause transition due to the misunderstandings of what is ‘normal’ and misinformation about treatments,” said Angela Johnson, co-founder and CEO of sanoLiving.

“Women are seeking solutions that allow them to thrive during midlife. We are thrilled about our alliance with Medavie Blue Cross, and our shared commitment to providing access to care that empowers women.”

Anita Swamy, senior vice president operations at Medavie Blue Cross, added: “We’ve heard first-hand from our members about the need for more menopause-related services.

“Our partnership with sanoLiving creates an innovative way to increase access to care for our members as we continue to focus on the support women need to navigate their benefits and provide forward-thinking options to support their health.”

Studies report one in 10 women exit the workforce due to unmanaged symptoms. Early onset of menopause and symptoms before age 45 can elevate the risk of health issues like heart disease, diabetes, dementia and osteoporosis.

With this new service, Medavie Blue Cross and sanoLiving are aiming to open up the conversation around menopause, reduce stigma and work towards giving women the access to the care they need.

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US start-up raises US$2.32m to address pelvic health concerns

The Flyte intravaginal device aims to treat stress urinary incontinence and strengthen pelvic floor muscles

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The US women’s health start-up Pelvital has raised US$2.32m in funding to address “unanswered” pelvic health issues.

Minnesota-based Pelvital aims to restore pelvic health with its first product Flyte, an FDA-cleared intravaginal treatment for stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and weakened pelvic floor muscles.

The device, originally developed by physicians from the Arctic University of Norway, uses mechanotherapy, a treatment modality that when paired with an active pelvic floor contraction stimulates tissue regeneration and the creation of neuromuscular memory.

The company will use the funding to speed up the commercialisation of Flyte and raise awareness of pelvic health issues.

“Completing this round is an important step in continuing Pelvital’s unwavering dedication to provide women with innovative solutions for pelvic health, including the treatment of SUI,” said Lydia Zeller, president and CEO of Pelvital.

“This funding will play a crucial role in accelerating our commercialisation of Flyte with a strong emphasis on expanding payor coverage and enhancing clinical education and clinician awareness.”

With this final close, Zeller said, Pelvital would welcome new investors including Pier 70 Ventures, Life Science Angels, Tech Coast Angels Orange County, and Blue Pacific Fund.

Preetha Ram, managing partner at Pier 70 Ventures, would join the Pelvital board of directors.

“Joining Pelvital’s board alongside this investment round is truly an honour,” Ram shared.

“Pier 70 and I are thrilled to be part of this transformational opportunity, as Pelvital’s mission aligns beautifully with our dedication to support disruptive technologies that shake up the status quo in healthcare.

“Pelvital’s pioneering work is shaping a future where women’s health receives the attention and innovation it deserves with novel medical devices like Flyte.”

Oscar Moralez, founder and managing partner of Boomerang Ventures who led the investment round, said: “We are thrilled for the successful completion of this round as we aim to tackle the most pressing healthcare challenges.

“Our participation aims to address the chronic underfunding in women’s healthcare. Investing in Flyte, a truly groundbreaking treatment, addresses underserved pelvic health issues like SUI and contributes to raising vital awareness.”

Two published clinical trials have validated Flyte’s safety, efficacy and durability of treatment effect for women with SUI.

Most recently Pelvital published a paper in Therapeutic Advances in Urology, showing that 71 per cent of study participants achieved dry or near dry conditions as evidenced by a reduction in 24-hour pad weight after using Flyte for between two and 12 weeks.

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