Campaign to raise awareness of endometriosis and invisible illnesses in Harrogate district schools

Emma Abel.

A campaigner from the Harrogate district is joining a charity’s fight to raise vital awareness of endometriosis in schools.

Emma Abel, 23, was diagnosed two years ago, and she has been passionate about highlighting the everyday struggles of living with the illness ever since.

With one in ten women suffering from the condition, Emma, who lives near Masham, is working with national charity Women with Endometriosis to go into schools and burst the stigma around what is ultimately an invisible illness.

Despite it being a common condition, Emma recognises that not a lot of people know what it is - not knowing that it’s where tissue behaving like the lining of the womb is found in other parts of the body. Some of the most common symptoms include painful irregular periods and excessive bleeding.

Nationally, the charity has lobbied Parliament to establish an All-Party Parliamentary Group, and its petition to introduce more education and awareness in schools has attracted thousands of signatures.

Emma said: “I found out about Women with Endometriosis on Facebook. I found that there wasn’t much support out there for women with endometriosis, and I was feeling a bit isolated. I didn’t know anyone else who had it, so I reached out that way by getting in touch with the charity.

“Not many people want to speak about it, I know I’ve found it hard to discuss it with other people who don’t have endometriosis and are not in your shoes. It’s important to try and get younger generations to think about it, doing talks in schools and saying that if girls do have bad periods, they don’t have to suffer in silence and in pain.

“That’s what I was scared of, telling people. But if we can get as many people as we can to get together and talk about it, it could really make a difference and stop the stigma.”

Emma said raising awareness can be especially important if an illness is not immediately obvious to anyone else, which she said can be the source of stigma.

She said: “One of the main things is that it’s hard with an invisible illness because everyone thinks you look ok when inside you are not. People don’t always understand.”

“People might say you look like your old self and look healthy, but even though you’re putting a smile on to get through it, you can still be in a lot of pain.”

To find out more about the charity, go to: https://womenwithendometriosis.org

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