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Are women with endometriosis hotter? The study that never should have been conducted.

One in nine Australian women are diagnosed with endometriosis by the age of 44.

In very simple terms, it's a disorder that means the tissue that would normally line the inside of your uterus, grows outside. It might be in your ovaries, bowel, or fallopian tubes instead.

It can be excruciatingly painful and despite being one of the most prevalent women's health issues, the disorder is underdiagnosed and understudied. Far more work needs to be done in the space of endometriosis when it comes to diagnosis and treatment. 

But - for reasons no one can quite understand - a medical journal decided to invest resources into determining whether endometriosis makes you more physically attractive. 

Yes, you read that right. 

Let us explain. In 2013 (yep, that recently), an obstetrician, gynecologist and the former president of the World Endometriosis Society, led a study that's sole purpose was to "evaluate physical attractiveness in women with and without endometriosis."

WATCH: What is endo? Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

300 all white women had their waist-to-hip ratio, their breast-to-underbreast ratio and BMIs measured, and were quizzed about their sexual histories. 

The researchers concluded that the women with rectovaginal endometriosis (a severe form of the disease), had a "leaner silhouette and larger breasts," and had been sexually active earlier in life. 

Apparently this made them more attractive than those with ovarian endometriosis, and those without the disease altogether.

It was published by the University of Milan School of Medicine in 2013. Just last week, after seven years, the study was finally redacted. 

Parts of the research, however, still exist online. 

The opening paragraph read: "Studies formally investigating attractiveness in women with endometriosis are lacking." 

You'd think that would trigger some alarm bells, but no, the 'method' incredulously went on to outline that inclusion criteria for the experiment includes "Caucasian origin" and excludes those with "visible tattoos or piercings, coloured contact lenses and completely dyed hair."

LISTEN: Keira Rumble on running a business and living with endometriosis. Post continues after podcast. 

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It explained that the study was performed with practices in place to "limit potential unintentional seductive behaviours that might sway the raters' judgement" and four physicians (two females and two males) are all asked to give a judgement and rate the patient's 'attractiveness' on a 5-point rating scale. 

The study concluded: "The proportion of women with rectovaginal endometriosis deemed rather attractive or very attractive was much more than double that observed in the other two study groups," pointing out that "attractive subjects have more chances of being selected by potential mates."

The six medical doctors who contributed to the study issued an "article withdrawal request" that read: "We conducted the study in good faith and according to correct methodology. We believe that our findings have been partly misinterpreted, but at the same time realise our article may have caused some distress to some people. Women's respect is a priority for us, and we are extremely sorry for the discontent the publication originated."


Image: fertstert.org.

But we're questioning why the study was ever commissioned in the first place. 

Why money, resources and time was spent trying to find a link between supposed 'attractiveness' and endometriosis - when we're still desperately in need of a better understanding of the disease itself, a better process for identifying and diagnosing the painful condition, and the development of better diagnostic and treatment options. 

This isn't research from 50 years ago. Most of us had iPhones in 2013, and here in Australia we had a female Prime Minister. 

And yet according to a study - led by a man - how a woman looks is more important than how a woman feels.

More on this topic:

"The pain was excruciating." Angie Kent on her experience of living with endometriosis.

"It's like someone's stabbing me in the abdomen." Jess has been in pain since she was 11. 

The most googled women's health question of 2018.

Feature image: Getty.

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