It affects more than 800,000 Australian women and girls, yet endometriosis remains poorly understood in the community and even by health professionals.

That’s particularly in the case in regional and remote areas where those suffering from symptoms often experience increased delays in diagnosis.

But it’s hoped this will change with specially trained endometriosis nurses set to help women manage the debilitating condition.

Endometriosis Australia is partnering with the Australian College of Nurses to launch a scholarship aimed at delivering 100 trained nurses to regional, rural and remote communities across the nation.

The scheme, funded through government grants and community donations, will enable nurses to be upskilled to treat those living with endometriosis without access to health services available in major cities.

Women suffering from endometriosis experience increased delays in diagnosis in remote areas. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)
Endometriosis is a disease that causes tissue similar to the lining of the uterus to grow in other parts of the body.

Its symptoms include period pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, fatigue, pain during sex and reduced fertility.

Nurse Lucy Downey, from Woolgoolga on the NSW mid-north coast, recently completed further study in endometriosis and chronic pain.

Ms Downey, who is also a high school teacher, said the study has made her the community’s main point of contact for those with the condition.

“It’s important because people in those areas still need to access resources instead of having to go far away all the time,” she said.

“You shouldn’t have to go to major cities to get treatment or get validated for your symptoms or pain.”

Despite increased awareness and treatment, Ms Downey said women were often confused about their symptoms regardless of their age.

Director and co-founder of Endometriosis Australia, Donna Ciccia, said nurses better understanding the condition could drastically change how patients are treated.

“Some communities only have nurses – they don’t have any GPs in town or it might take longer to see a GP or clinic that specialises in endometriosis and pelvic pain,” she said.

“Having a nurse that can dedicate more time so they can understand what what’s happening to their bodies can be life-changing.

“It’s also just awesome to have someone who gets endometriosis, that you don’t need to walk into a clinic and explain what endometriosis is.”

There were more than 40,000 endometriosis-related hospitalisations in 2021-22, largely among patients between 15 and 44.

That meant 18 out of every 1000 hospitalisations for females in that age group was related to the disease.

Endometriosis hospitalisations decreased with remoteness, potentially reflecting barriers to access in health services, according to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The average diagnosis is made 6.5 years after the onset of symptoms.

Ideal candidates for the $2900 scholarships should be living in regional, rural, or remote areas and have an academic background and interest in women’s health.

Applications will be accepted from September 1 with the first intake to begin in January 2025.

Endometriosis is commonly found in and around the pelvis, but it can also be in the bowel, bladder, skin, joints, lungs and brain.

Source: AAP