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It's OK to talk. Period.

Women and young girls are waiting an average of 2 years before consulting their GP about difficult or painful periods. The Endometriosis UK Diagnosis Survey found that women and young girls don’t realise that what they are suffering may not be normal and that they should consult a healthcare professional.

Painful periods can be a sign of an undiagnosed medical condition, including endometriosis and women, particularly young women, need to be encouraged to seek help at an early stage.  Average diagnosis times for endometriosis are still at around 7 years, and 50% of women report experiencing their first symptoms in their teenage years.

Don’t suffer in silence

Pain is real and shouldn’t be dismissed. Many women report that their pain and symptoms are not taken seriously when they present at their GP – the Endometriosis UK Diagnosis Survey identified an average 4 year delay at primary level. Our Pain and Symptom Diary can help highlight key areas and identify other symptoms.

Painful periods can be a sign of:

  • Fibroids – 20-40% of women will suffer from these at some point during their reproductive years, but many can be easily treated through drugs or surgery.
  • Endometriosis – a common condition (1 in 10 women), associated with severe pelvic pain and infertility, where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows elsewhere in the body, primarily the pelvic region, responding to the hormonal cycle in the same way as the lining of the womb.  Endometriosis is a chronic condition for which treatment can be difficult and long-term. 
  • Adenomyosis – a similar condition to endometriosis where endometrial tissue grows within the wall of the uterus and responds to the hormonal changes each month causing severe pain.  Prevalence is not known. Diagnosis is difficult and symptoms are usually managed by hormonal treatments. 
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease – a bacterial infection affecting the womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries (1 in 50 women will have this each year and of these only 1 in 4 is due to an STI).  Treatment is usually through a course of antibiotics.

That’s why we say: It’s OK to talk. Period.

Whilst many women experience some pain or discomfort during their period particularly in the early years, no-one should be experiencing pain that lasts for more than 2-3 days, that affects your everyday activities or that cannot be controlled by normal over-the-counter pain medication. Painful periods, particularly if accompanied by other symptoms may need additional treatment. Early diagnosis has been shown to improve health outcomes for many conditions. Many women have learned about periods from their mothers, sisters or aunts, but as some conditions (e.g. endometriosis) have a genetic factor, then symptoms can become normalised. Our "It's OK to talk. Period." campaign aims to encourage women and teenagers to break a taboo and talk about their periods. 

How can I help raise awareness?

 Our "It's OK to talk. Period." campaign poster is also available for download and sharing on social media to raise awarenss of our campaign. (These posters were designed pro-bono by long term endometriosis campaigner Kaye Sedgwick. Please do not alter the images in anyway once downloaded.)

 Our ‘Is it normal?’ leaflets can help to discuss these issues among young girls, teenagers and in school settings. These leaflets aim to make teenagers aware of what is ‘normal’ and what is not when they begin their menstrual cycle. These leaflets are also available for free download and distribution. 

 Most importantly of all, you can help raise awareness by simply talking. Just talking about what is normal can be helpful.

Find out more about how you can help during Endometriosis Awareness Week.

What's happening during Endometriosis Awareness Week?

We're getting people talking: Endometriosis UK is setting up a range of activities to encourage women to talk during Endometriosis Awareness Week 2014 - online, by telephone and face-to-face.

We'll be carrying out the following activities during Awareness Week:

 Drop-in support groups: We've arrange for special drop-in support sessions in various locations around the country for Endometriosis Awareness Week. You don't need to book or register, just simply turn up and have a chat with someone who understands what you're going through. Find out more.

 Helpline: We understand how important it can be to just have someone to talk to. During Awareness Week, our helpline will be open every day.

 Online Support Groups: Our Online Support Groups provide an opportunity for women who are unable to attend a group session to come together and talk about endometriosis. We will be holding a meeting on Monday 3rd March and Thursday 6th March.