People who are suffering from endometriosis should take extra care to protect themselves from coronavirus experts warn.
According to a London gynaecologist, women who suffer from a specific type of endometriosis are at a greater risk of developing severe complications if they contract the coronavirus.
Known as thoracic endometriosis, the condition affects the chest cavity, with common symptoms including chest pain, coughing and shortness of breath.
It is thought that around 10% of endometriosis sufferers, 150,000 women, are affected by this condition in the UK, which can cause patients to cough up blood on a monthly basis.
Dr. Larisa Corda, a gynaecologist who is currently treating coronavirus patients in London, said: “For those 10% of women who have endometriosis affecting their lungs because this is a respiratory virus it could put them more at risk of complications if they were to get the coronavirus.”
Dr. Sarah Jarvis, GP and clinal director of Patientaccess.com, has also expressed her concern that women who suffer from this condition may be at risk.
She said: “This is a new virus so there’s still lots we don’t know. Endometriosis is a medical condition where endometrium – tissue that usually lines your womb – is found at other sites in the body. The most common place is inside the tummy cavity outside the womb. However, up to one in 10 women with endometriosis have endometrium inside their chests.”
She went on to say: “Having endometriosis in your tummy does not increase your risk of severe coronavirus infection. Theoretically, having abnormal tissue inside your chest could increase your risk; however, we just don’t know enough about the virus to be sure.”
Keisha Meek, who has thoracic endometriosis, has had 11 operations to remove endometrium but has recently found out that it has returned and that she may need to go back to hospital for further surgery.
She revealed: “It’s really scary because I’ve had pneumonia five times since Christmas and five lots of antibiotics and I’m still not managing to get rid of it. It’s quite terrifying because I think how will I possibly fight that [COVID-19] off.”
Emma Cox, CEO of Endometriosis has said: “We don’t want to worry everyone with endometriosis, but what we would say is that it’s likely you would know if you had it [thoracic endometriosis].”
She went on to say that the charity has drawn up a set of guidelines for endometriosis patients that are worried about their health during this difficult time.
It says: “If you have thoracic endometriosis, your best defence against the virus is minimising social contact, regular hand washing and self-isolation if necessary. If you are concerned about specific treatment or symptoms, speak to your GP, or if you are under the care of a hospital, get in touch with the team there.”
Endometriosis UK has also advised that as the vast majority of endometriosis surgery is classified as nonurgent surgery, those with operation dates in place will most likely have them cancelled and rescheduled in the coming months.
For those still waiting for a surgery date, the waiting times will likely be longer.