Seanad debates

Monday, 8 March 2021

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Disease Management

10:30 am

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I am sharing time with Senator McGreehan. I wish a happy International Women's Day to everyone, not least to all the women in Ireland who suffer with endometriosis, which is what this Commencement matter concerns. The Minister of State will be aware this chronic condition affects one in ten Irish women and girls. It is incurable. Some of the main symptoms include chronic pain and fatigue, heavy bleeding, and infertility or mental health issues, to name but a few. There are still no clear clinical guidelines for GPs and no clear care pathway through our health service. On average, it takes women seven years to get a diagnosis, with many saying it can take them in excess of ten years. That is important because the longer the disease is left unchecked to wreak havoc internally, the more damage it does. It is so important, like in many aspects of healthcare, that there is early intervention.

Because GPs are not properly educated and trained to spot the symptoms and because of the absence of clinical guidelines for GPs, this condition often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, with many women reporting having been prescribed antidepressant medication and having been told it was all in their heads, it was all part of being a woman and they needed to buckle up and deal with the pain because it is just their lot. That this story is reported by so many women shows it is prevalent throughout our health service, with many women reporting of the trauma of being gaslit by their GP and of being told what they are feeling is not really happening and it is all in their heads.

We need urgent action on this.With every week and month that go by, another woman or young girl is suffering and in pain, bedridden and missing weeks of school. These women are unable to have a good quality of life and are missing out on work and education opportunities. The damage being done to a significant cohort of the population is immense. One in ten women have this condition. I ask the Minister of State to please take back to the Minister for Health, Deputy Donnelly, the need for urgent action, clear clinical guidelines, a care pathway for treatment and education among GPs to spot the symptoms early on.


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