Change the story for future generations with #WhatIWishILearned

“Before I even started my periods, I suffered from crippling pelvic pain every month. When my periods started a year later, the pain got even worse; usually twice a month, I was rushed to A&E and had to be given morphine. During my period, I lost a lot of blood, used multiple tampons and pads every hour, became anaemic and suffered chronic fatigue. By the time I was 14, my quality of life was non-existent - most of the time I couldn’t leave the house. I was still being told what I was experiencing was normal, or worse that I was making it up to gain attention. I was made to feel like I couldn’t talk about what I was experiencing, and self-doubt crept in.

“My name is Alice, I'm 22, and for over 5 years, my periods ruined my life. I missed school regularly and suffered debilitating pain. Appointment after appointment, I was told this was completely normal. It was only later that I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis.”

Alice is one of our Trustees at Endometriosis UK, and sadly, she’s far from alone in her story. Endometriosis is a predominately female disease, suffered by 10% of people from puberty to menopause, although the impact may last for life. That’s 1.5 million people in the UK and the average diagnosis time is 7.5 years, with many waiting decades for a diagnosis. And if the prevalence of this misunderstood disease wasn’t enough, 12% of children and teenagers don’t know what a period is when they begin and so many have no one to turn to for guidance about what’s normal. Additionally, PCOS affects 1 in 5 in the UK and 1 in 3 develop fibroids at some stage in their life, whilst 1 in 5 have heavy menstrual bleeding or severe PMDD.

A large majority of people go years without diagnosis and without the support they need because they’ve been told by GPs that what they’re experiencing is ‘normal’, or they’re too embarrassed to ask for help. These diseases can affect their ability to continue education, have a career, have a social life and start a family. They can impact every area of a person’s life, and yet they can have no idea what’s wrong with them because of the lack of education and awareness around what is ‘normal’ for periods.

And so we’re asking you to help us make change. Our petition to get menstrual wellbeing included in schools has hit over 10,000, but we need even more signatures to get MPs to listen up! We want children and teenagers to know what a period is, we want them to understand what’s normal and we want them to know it’s okay to talk about menstruation so they can identify problems sooner and seek the help and diagnosis they need earlier. And we want all children, taught about menstrual wellbeing to overcome the taboo, embarrassment and ridicule some can face. 

To help get the attention this matter needs, we want to know what menstrual wellbeing in schools would have done for you. What do you wish you had learnt at school and how could it have changed your experience? We’re launching our #whatiwishilearned campaign on Tuesday 26th June. Share your story by posting a snap of yourself (or our infographic) on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, use the hashtag #whatiwishilearned and be sure to tag a friend and ask them what they wish they had learnt about menstrual wellbeing when they were in school.

We’ll be sharing as many stories as we can on our own pages, so keep an eye out for yours! It doesn’t matter if you’ve already signed the petition; sharing your story helps us give valuable feedback to the Government and raises awareness on this important subject.

To make posting a bit easier, please add this caption at the end of your post:

This is #whatiwishilearned when I was in school. Help us change the story for generations to come by asking the Government to add Menstrual Wellbeing to the Relationships and Sex Education curriculum. Please sign Endometriosis UK’s petition here: https://www.change.org/p/ngibb-menstrualhealth and spread the word.