Misdiagnosis, a common occurrence among women with endometriosis

By Treven Pyles

Posted on January 11th, 2023

As a painful disease affecting 1 in 11 women, endometriosis is often misdiagnosed. This is because the symptoms can resemble those of more common medical conditions. For this reason, women who believe they developed endometriosis due to using toxic hair relaxers must seek a second opinion.

As a gynecological condition, endometriosis is a disease in which tissue resembling the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, resulting in severe pain and, sometimes, infertility. While it is believed that endometriosis occurs in 10% to 20% of women of reproductive age in the United States, the actual number of cases might be significantly higher, as the disease is often mistaken for other conditions. The main reasons endometriosis is frequently misdiagnosed are the overlap of symptoms with other diseases and a limited diagnosis process. Although the main symptom of endometriosis is dysmenorrhea - painful menstrual cramps that might prevent the person from doing their normal activities - there are numerous other signs indicating the presence of the disease, such as:

  • pain with bowel movements or urination
  • nausea, constipation, or diarrhea during periods
  • pain during or after intercourse
  • heavy bleeding during periods
  • difficulty getting pregnant or infertility
  • lower back pain before, during, or after the period
  • blood in the urine or pain while passing urine
  • abdominal pain that worsens during periods

Women with endometriosis can expect a gap between 4 to 11 years between the onset of their symptoms and receiving a diagnosis. This speaks volumes about the prevalence of misdiagnosis. Endometriosis can also present similarly to other conditions on a cellular level, which makes it extremely challenging to diagnose even for the more experienced medical specialists. Furthermore, there are currently no non-invasive diagnosis tests for endometriosis, and access to laparoscopy, the surgical procedure that can reveal whether a person has the disease, is a privilege for many.

It is also important to note that there are different endometriosis types and various ways it can present symptomatically. Occurring in up to 37% of all cases, intestinal endometriosis is easily overlooked due to the symptoms the patient experiences. For instance, women with intestinal endometriosis may experience diarrhea, constipation, and rectal bleeding. When evaluating menstruating women with ambiguous symptoms whose radiologic and endoscopic findings are not specific, the diagnostic options should consider intestinal endometriosis. Other types of endometriosis include:

  • abdominal wall endometriosis: endometrial tissue can grow on the abdominal wall, and the cells may attach to a surgical incision
  • endometriomas: it involves dark, fluid-filled cysts varying in size and appearing in different parts of the pelvis or abdomen, as well as in the ovaries
  • deeply infiltrating endometriosis: occurring in fewer than 5% of women, it is diagnosed when the endometrial tissue has invaded the organs either within or outside the pelvic cavity, such as the ovaries, rectum, or bladder
  • superficial peritoneal endometriosis: as the least severe endometriosis form, in this type, the endometrial tissue attaches to the peritoneum, a thin membrane lining the abdomen and pelvis

There are four stages of endometriosis, from minimal to severe. While in the former, there are just a few small wounds or lesions on the organs or the tissue lining the pelvis or abdomen with no scar tissue, in the latter, endometrial tissue has spread considerably, and the woman has many deep implants and thick adhesions with large cysts on the ovaries. Endometriosis is a rather mysterious disease, as it does not always progress from one stage to the next. If left untreated, over time, it can get worse, remain the same, or get better.

Over 75% of patients with endometriosis reported being misdiagnosed

If you regularly use hair relaxers and do not have any of the risk factors for endometriosis in your life, such as a family history of the disease, starting your period at a young age, never giving birth, a high estrogen level, or short menstrual cycles, your risk of misdiagnosis is even greater. This is because your doctor might not even consider endometriosis in your case despite your symptoms. Similarly, if you are under 30, when most endometriosis cases occur, you might also be assigned a wrong diagnosis. The following are only some of the diseases and medical conditions endometriosis can be misdiagnosed as:

  • bladder infection
  • pelvic inflammatory disease
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • sciatica
  • uterine fibroids
  • polycystic ovary syndrome
  • interstitial cystitis
  • pelvic floor dysfunction
  • solitary rectal ulcer syndrome
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • colorectal cancer
  • ischemic colitis
  • metastatic tumor
  • primary dysmenorrhea
  • adenomyosis
  • ovarian cysts
  • pelvic adhesions
  • fibromyalgia
  • appendicitis
  • urinary tract infection
  • chronic lower back pain

We strongly encourage any woman who believes she has endometriosis to look for a second and even a third opinion from different medical specialists, as this is the only way to receive a correct diagnosis. Not only is the right diagnosis crucial for the effectiveness of the treatment you will receive, but also for your eligibility to file a toxic hair relaxer claim. Only women with endometriosis and those with uterine and ovarian cancer might be entitled to financial compensation from the liable manufacturers. Therefore, you should get correctly diagnosed before reaching out to our legal team.

Our attorneys can efficiently help you file a toxic hair relaxer claim for endometriosis

With over 30 years of experience in toxic exposure and defective product cases, our attorneys will help you determine whether you are eligible to file a toxic hair relaxer claim if you struggle with endometriosis. Since we know how challenging this disease can be, our legal team will do all in their power to take care of the most complex aspects of the process on your behalf. This way, your involvement will be minimal, and a family member can help if you are too ill to participate.

The only documents we will need from you to review your case are your medical records stating your endometriosis diagnosis and evidence of having used toxic hair relaxers, such as receipts. By virtue of our experience and knowledge, we will carefully evaluate your case to see if you qualify for compensation from the companies whose products you used. Once we deem you eligible, our skilled attorneys will file your toxic hair relaxer claim and strive to obtain the most favorable outcome for your case.