Report by Katharine Walker
Charities are calling for help to support women in the UK who have been left living in pain due to delays to endometriosis treatment because of Covid-19.
Endometriosis is a medical condition where tissue - like that of the lining in the womb - starts to grow elsewhere in the body.
Charity Endometriosis UK estimates one in 10 women in the UK "endure unrelenting pain" every day as a result of the condition.
A new survey of endometriosis patients in the UK has found that 88% of treatment has been affected by the pandemic.
Keisha Meek, 29, has been waiting over 13 months for surgery to investigate the endometriosis in her lungs. While she waits, she spends every day in pain at her home in Bingley.
''In January I had a massive breakdown. I did have to go to hospital and have an emergency mental health nurse see me.
She added: ''I thought there's no chance I'm going to anyone any time soon. I could see no end to it really.''
Charities are now calling for help to support women who are struggling with these delays.
Emma Cox, the Chief Executive of Endometriosis UK said: ''We all know about the impact the pandemic has had and if people are also waiting if you like to know what's going on it can have a really bad impact on their anxiety levels and mental health.
She added: ''What we would like is an opportunity now to take a stock check and say how to we give support to mental health support as well as physical support.''
An NHS spokesperson said: “This survey is nearly nine months old so doesn’t account for the significant increase in endometriosis care the NHS has provided since then.
''Any woman who thinks they are showing signs or symptoms should contact their GP for advice, treatment and referral for tests so that their symptoms can be treated as quickly as possible.”
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is where cells and tissue usually found in the lining of the womb starts to grow elsewhere in the body.
These cells behave in the same way as those in the womb, but unlike a period, have no way of leaving the body.
It is estimated one in 10 women have endometriosis. It can be debilitating, have a huge impact at work, and those with the condition can need frequent access to a toilet due to bowel or bladder related symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms and its impact differ person to person, but common symptoms include:
pain in your lower tummy or back – usually worse during your period
pain during or after sex
pain when peeing or pooing during your period
feeling sick, constipation, diarrhoea, or blood in your pee during your period
difficulty getting pregnant
You may also have heavy periods. You might use lots of pads or tampons, or you may bleed through your clothes.
For some women, endometriosis can have a big impact on their life and may sometimes lead to feelings of depression.
What is the treatment?
Endometriosis UK says there is currently no cure for the condition but stressed treatment can "reduce the severity of symptoms and improve quality of life" for sufferers.
Hormone treatments, attempting to block or reduce the production of oestrogen in the body, can help those with the condition.
Pain relief including the use of heat, painkillers, physiotherapy, pain modifiers and/or TENS machines are also used as options for treatment.
Surgery is also an option for women with endometriosis - areas with the affected tissue are surgically removed.
Endometriosis UK is a charity that offers support to women suffering from the chronic condition.