One in seven Australian women are suffering from endometriosis, thousands more than previously thought and it's widening the "endo pay gap", advocates say. New data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) revealed that around 14 percent of women aged 44-49 are estimated to have endometriosis. And the rate of hospitalisations for the condition has doubled among women aged 20-24 over the past decade. Endometriosis Australia chief executive Maree Davenport said the condition could be both physically and financially debilitating. "We have an 'endo pay gap', research suggests it costs thousands for each person with endometriosis to manage their disease," she said. "It also has an impact on their productivity, their ability to work, to have time off, to have operations to manage their symptoms, and also to ensure that their fertility is can be investigated. "The other things that really help those with endo like yoga, pilates, acupuncture and massage all cost a lot of money." Endometriosis costs on average $30,000 per patient per year from lost work and productivity as well as healthcare expenses, experts say. Endometriosis is a progressive chronic condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows in other parts of the body. Women experience pain, heavy menstrual bleeding and reduced fertility among other symptoms. Definitive diagnosis is notoriously difficult and involves surgery. It takes 6 to 8 years on average between the onset of symptoms and diagnosis. Regional Australians face additional barriers to management of the condition, according to Ms Davenport. "If you live in a rural or regional area and you've got limited access to medical care you're going to have less opportunity to have endometriosis diagnosed," she said. "In Australia with a universal health system, it's really disappointing that we're talking about socio economic access and equity issues for those women and girls who are already already victims of intersectional and generational disadvantage." IN OTHER NEWS: According to research conducted by Endometriosis Australia, one in six people with endometriosis will lose their employment due to managing the disease and one in three will be overlooked for a promotion. Monash senior research fellow in obstetrics and gynaecology Dr Thomas Tapmeier said despite growing awareness of the condition, workplaces needed to adapt to support people with endometriosis. "It would help if the work environment was more amenable to people with endometriosis. They need time off to manage their condition," he said. Spain has introduced menstrual leave for women experiencing endometriosis and related conditions. Australian unions are campaigning to introduce clauses in the Fair Work Act for paid menstrual and menopause leave.