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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Louise Hamar

Government Calls On Endometriosis Researchers To Hand In Proposals For Funding

Millions of pounds has been set aside by the government for Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome research after a petition was introduced to parliament by Taiwo Owatemi MP, on the 1st November 2021, highlighting the desperate need for research.

Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue, similar to the lining of the womb, starts to grow in other places of the body such as ovaries, bladder or bowels. Whilst PCOS is a condition which affects how a women’s ovaries work. It can cause irregular egg release, excess androgen (“male” hormones) and ovaries can become enlarged or develop cysts.

The petition calls for “more funding, to enable for new, extensive and thorough research into female health issues”. However, Maria Caulfeild, the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, insisted “funding is not the barrier” and urged researchers to come forward with proposals.

Caulfeild outlined how over the past five years the National Institute for Health Research have funded £8.52 million of Endometriosis research. Also, the government have commissioned a £2 million trial on peritoneal endometriosis, interviewed up to 80 women about urogynaecological conditions and funded £6.65 million of PCOS research, which includes a £2 million randomised control trial into fertility options.

MPs were assured that funding is available and Caulfeild appealed to “all researchers who want to conduct research in this area to submit applications and bids”.

However, the debate highlighted how Endometriosis and PCOSO patients face a lack of treatment options. Owatemi gave examples of what women in her constituency of Coventry North West were offered when receiving a diagnosis. “I have heard from countless women that, after finally being diagnosed with endometriosis or PCOS, they are told by their GP to come back when they want to get pregnant and are then sent on their way, without targeted treatments” Owatemi said.

“There was a 14-year-old girl who was relentlessly bullied by her peers for her excessive facial hair and acne and for weight-related reasons” Owatemi continued “she experienced such debilitating pain in her lungs and lower abdomen that she was hospitalised during a GCSE exam. After five years of calling hospitals, three painful exploratory surgeries, countless GP appointments and several specialist referrals, she was finally diagnosed with endometriosis and PCOS. The only treatment her GP could offer her was generic birth control pills.”

Owatemi also shared statics on how hard it is for women to receive an Endometriosis diagnosis: “Some 58% of women with endometriosis had to visit a GP more than 10 times to get a diagnosis, while 21% had 10 or more hospital appointments and 53% went to A&E, with 27% going more than three times, before diagnosis.” These statics were published in the ‘APPG on Endometriosis Inquiry Report’ by the All-Party Parliamentary Group in 2020.

The petition, which gained 101,910 signatures, was started in July 2020 by the charity, Endometriosis UK. Before the debate, the charity also led a campaign in which 6,000 supporters wrote to their MPs and urged them to attend. In the end, all 650 MPs across the UK had been contacted about the affects of Endometriosis and PCOS.

Emma Cox, CEO of Endometriosis UK, said: “We were pleased to hear powerful speeches both from MPs we have engaged with before, and others whom we look forward to getting to know. But this is not the end - we will continue to work hard to ensure this debate is the catalyst for change”.

Watch the full debate here:

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