Video report by ITV News Anglia's Elodie Harper
A young farmer who spent years in crippling pain, which turned out to be early signs of endometriosis, has claimed she was forced to go private because her condition was not taken seriously by NHS doctors.
Lucy Munns, 24, from Cambridgeshire, said she was 17 when she first started experiencing "horrendous" stomach pain.
By the age of 20, Ms Munns says she could not take the pain any more, and started trying to get help on the NHS.
She said she was initially offered various painkillers to help ease the pain, but when they did not work, claimed that some doctors brushed off her concerns as "period pains."
Ms Munns also alleged one doctor "laughed" when she suggested that the pain could be down to endometriosis - a condition caused by womb lining tissue growing in other places such as ovaries and fallopian tubes.
“When I was going through a flare-up, that would be horrendous pain, you couldn't really stand up straight," said Ms Munns, of Whittlesey near Peterborough.
“I think they looked at me and because I’d been up to the doctors quite a few times, to try and get advice [...] they looked at me and thought I was a bit of a hypochondriac."
After two years of GP appointments, and the pain getting “progressively worse”, Ms Munns asked a new doctor to write her a referral letter to seek private healthcare.
She was then diagnosed with stage four endometriosis which was found to be covering one of her ovaries and her fallopian tubes were also blocked.
What are the symptoms?
What are the symptoms?
Pain in your lower tummy or back - usually worse during your period
Period pain that stops you doing your normal activities
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
In total, she has now spent £9,000 on private treatment - including two operations, and MRI scans.
Ms Munns said most days were now pain-free, but the nature of her condition means she will need to have regular surgery every few years in the future.
“It's almost like you have to prove how much pain you’re in by offering money," she said.
“It is really expensive and it's something that I'm probably going to have to continue throughout my life.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for NHS East of England said: "While the diagnosis of endometriosis can be complex and may take time as many other conditions cause similar symptoms, we know that it can have a debilitating impact on the physical and mental health of women who suffer from it.
"Anyone who thinks they have symptoms can access more information on nhs.uk and if worried, they can contact their GP for advice, treatment and referral for further investigations."
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