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Papers of the Week

Papers: 2 Sep 2023 - 8 Sep 2023

Psychology, Review

Human Studies, Neurobiology

Abdominal/Pelvic Pain, Inflammation/Inflammatory, Psychological/Comorbidities

2023 Sep

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol X



Stigma and mental health in endometriosis.


Kocas HD, Rubin LR, Lobel M


This review provides an overview of patient experiences of endometriosis, endometriosis-related types and sources of stigma pertaining to menstruation, chronic pain, and infertility, and their impact on patients’ mental health with particular implications for patient care. Because endometriosis is a complex disease with multifactorial etiology, complicated pathophysiology, and a spectrum of clinical features, diagnosis of endometriosis is typically a lengthy process, and many patients experience initial misdiagnosis. A hallmark symptom is severe menstrual pain with other symptoms including chronic pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea, and infertility. Prior research documents that the diagnostic odyssey, complex management, disabling and unpredictable nature of the disease, and painful symptom profile affect multiple life domains of patients, resulting in poor physical, social, and psychological functioning and clinically-significant rates of anxiety and depression for many. More recently, stigma has been recognized as a potent contributor to poor mental health in endometriosis patients, but existing research is limited and largely atheoretical. We identify major sources of stigma related to endometriosis, including menstrual stigma, chronic pain stigma, and infertility stigma, and their likely impact on patients and health care provision. An integrative theoretical approach is described to facilitate research on the prevalence and effects of endometriosis stigma and their explanatory mechanisms, highlighting specific well-validated psychological instruments to assess stigma. Implications for patient care are emphasized. Better understanding of stigma and mental health in people with endometriosis will enhance the standard of care for this patient population.