Researchers at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute will co-lead a study to identify early risk factors for endometriosis in teenagers after the project was awarded almost $2 million in federal funding.

The Royal Children's Hospital (RCH )will be the home of the 'The Long STEPPP Australia Study', a first of its kind approach to investigating the development and treatment of endometriosis, period and pelvic pain in Australian teenage girls.

The aim is to identify early risk factors, and educational and management strategies that will lead to better health outcomes. The projects builds on preliminary research work done at the RCH which has demonstrated a low surgical intervention rate, good control of symptoms and positive long-term outcomes.

Professor Sonia Grover (project lead), Professor Harriet Hiscock and Dr Brooke Harcourt will oversee the $1,963,118 project. 

"This study is the first of its kind to focus on adolescents, leading to the possibility of prevention of endometriosis through controlling pelvic pain and menstrual problems," Professor Grover said.

"There is limited education to ensure teenagers seek help for their period problems. The symptoms of endometriosis begin many years before its detection and recurrent severe period pain predisposes women to chronic pelvic pain. No young women should have to go through life experiencing severe period pain.

"In addition, the impact on a girl's education and psychosocial development and the onset and persistence of pain in teenagers to adulthood has not been studied." 

The project was one of five to share in $9.5 million from the Medical Research Future Fund's Emerging Priorities and Consumer Driven Research Initiative announced by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt. 

The projects will lead to improved diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis, period and pelvic pain and a better understanding of its causes.  

Endometriosis is a common yet frequently under-recognised chronic disease. It affects one in every 10 Australian women and girls, with the average diagnosis taking between seven to 10 years.

Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus.  

It is a highly individualised disease, with its symptoms and impact ranging significantly from person to person. It often leads to severe chronic pain and in some cases, compromised fertility and sexual function.
Any young women showing symptoms such as significant period and pelvic pain should speak to their local health care practitioner.