Australia

Plan aims to end silence on endometriosis

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is launching Australia's first action plan for endometriosis. (AAP)

Australia's first endometriosis action plan includes funding for clinical trials to find effective treatments and a possible cure for the illness.

Hitesha Atre is hopeful her soon-to-be-born daughter will never have to go through what she did as a sufferer of endometriosis.

She's endured a decade of debilitating pain, three failed IVF procedures and four miscarriages.

The 31-year-old changed doctors and gynaecologists and was put on several treatment plans - including five laparoscopic surgeries - for the chronic menstrual health disorder she's suffered since she was 22.

"It's a horrible experience, it's life-changing," Ms Atre told AAP on Thursday.

"Other couples were planning their travels and we were planning my next surgery."

Endometriosis affects more than 700,000 Australian women with many enduring delays of seven to 12 years before being properly diagnosed.

It often causes debilitating pain and organ damage and can lead to mental health complications, social or economic stress and infertility.

Ms Atre and her husband, James Prasad, consider themselves lucky as they count down the days until their first child is born following a successful fourth round of IVF.

They're hopeful their daughter won't go through what Ms Atre did after federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on Thursday announced Australia's first action plan for endometriosis.

The plan aims to increase knowledge and awareness of the illness with the Turnbull government pledging a further $1 million in funding, taking the total investment to $4.5 million.

That includes $2.5 million for clinical trials to find effective treatments and a possible cure.

"Women and girls who suffer should feel free to talk about this the same way anyone talks about a hip or knee injury," Mr Hunt told reporters in Sydney.

"Part of our role is to say endometriosis is real, is significant and is important and it's been buried in silence for too long."

University of NSW professor of gynaecological surgery Jason Abbott says the illness costs the community up to $6 billion a year with the pain experienced by women potentially worse than cancer.

The only way to diagnose endometriosis at present is through laparoscopic surgery.

"It's absolutely imperative that we have a better way to diagnose it and do not have to go to that invasive stage," Prof Abbott said at a joint press conference with Mr Hunt.

Sydney radio personality Mel Greig, who is an Endometriosis Australia ambassador, has shared her struggle with the illness.

She recalled calling in sick at work one day and her boss telling her to take some panadol, stating "You'll be OK".

"He genuinely thought it was just bad period pain but endometriosis is so much more than that," she told reporters on Thursday.

"A lot of women lie about what's going on but they need to understand and realise it's normal."

A national endometriosis steering group of medical experts will oversee the implementation of the plan over the next five years.

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