You may not have heard of endometriosis, but affecting one in ten women it is now just as common as diabetes.
The incurable condition, which is caused by the lining of the uterus growing outside of the womb and trapping blood during periods, can result in debilitating pain and can adversely affect the bowels and bladder.
And because of the lack of knowledge around the condition, the average diagnosis time is between seven and eight years.
Now 23-year-old Shaunee Jamieson from Sandwick, who works as a midwife in Aberdeen, has launched a petition in partnership with Endometriosis UK to raise awareness of the condition, and to push the Scottish government to introduce lessons on menstrual wellbeing in our schools.
Ms Jamieson, an endometriosis sufferer herself, said that she began to experience “heavy periods, nausea and vomiting” and that the pain was akin to a “hot knife being put into my stomach and twisted”.
She said that she was initially given the pill to try and help with the flow and pain caused by her periods but it “didn’t work”.
“I kept going back and saying ‘no, something is wrong’.
“If I had been taught about it in school I would have realised it wasn’t just period pain.”
Ms Jamieson only discovered she had endometriosis when she moved to Aberdeen and started working as a midwife.
“The diagnosis was kind of a relief,” she said.
“I knew why my periods were so painful, I knew why I was in so much pain”.
Although there is no full cure for the condition, there are ways in which it can be curtailed – one of which being a laparoscopy, keyhole surgery that can result in the adhesions from the endometriosis being cut away.
Ms Jamieson had this surgery, but said that there was “still this unknown” feeling because the endometriosis could yet grow back.
She said she had felt there was no other option but to have the surgery because she was having to take “a day off every week or every two weeks” due to the pain.
With the help of Endometriosis UK, Ms Jamieson is now hoping to raise awareness of the condition with a petition that she hopes can be presented to the Scottish Government, calling for “menstrual wellbeing to be taught at all schools”.
“I’d like all schoolchildren, boys and girls, to be taught about what a normal period is and what to do if you think your period isn’t right”.
She said that it was “mental” that because of the lack of awareness, sufferers were forced to wait on average 7.5 years for a diagnosis for a condition that affects the same number of women in the UK as diabetes.
“Can you imagine if a diabetic had to wait seven to eight years for a diagnosis?”
The petition has reached almost 400 signatures in only two days, with a target of 500 signatures set to be reached in the coming days.
You can add your name to the list of supporters at this link – https://www.change.org/p/scottish-government-stop-brushing-menstrual-health-under-the-carpet-and-teach-menstrual-wellbeing-in-schools?fbclid=IwAR1MOg7CTGYCFudAsqRwgxODrBLmoH7z98-9F-eW9MYgcFmkVWFjN91RNWk
Ms Jamieson also now runs an endometriosis support group in Aberdeen, which can be reached at: https://www.facebook.com/EndometriosisAberdeen/