FOR most people their period is an uncomfortable annoyance at best – but for one woman daily agony is the norm.
Shona Gowan spent years pleading with doctors for help as she went in and out of hospital in crippling pain, but was dismissed until she was rushed to A&E coughing up blood.
The 21-year-old has suffered so badly with endometriosis she even found giving birth a relief.
She said it was actually a brief moment of relief from her daily battle with the invisible chronic condition.
Shona has been forced to give up work and is on four different painkillers a day to manage the incurable life-long condition.
But despite her young age, doctors took a long time to properly diagnose her illness – telling her it was IBS or just what a period is like.
One of her ovaries is stuck to her uterus, with the other now immobile she is waiting for her fourth operation, that she has been forced to fundraise for.
The former horse riding instructor(check) said: "Without medication, my pain would be constant and every day.
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"It pushes you to an edge you didn't know existed. Pushing my boy out was like a relief.
"For me it was better than endo as the pain ended.
"I'd take being pregnant over being in the pain I can be in sometimes. I genuinely enjoyed giving birth.
"It feels horrendous because you are in pain and you need help but you feel you are at a brick wall. You are left alone to deal with it."
"You feel like a burden on people. I'm part of a lot of groups and people say about how they are going to end their lives as they just can't cope with it."
Shona, from Hull, was diagnosed at 19 years old after years of hospital trips and painful periods.
The teen, at the time, was raced to A&E coughing up blood and was told she had endometriosis.
She had been suffering from the age of 13, and suspects she wasn't taken seriously at first because she was so young.
Falling pregnant with her eight-month-old son, Reggie, was a surprise, as she had assumed she would have trouble with fertility.
After years of pain, the young mum wants more people to know how bad the condition can be.
Shona said: "If you could see it people would be like 'bloody hell that looks awful', but they don't so that don't understand.
"It should be taught in sex education as one in ten women is not a small number of people who has it. It should be taught.
"People don't know enough about it – including doctors. Even gynaecologists. You don't get taken seriously, it's scary.
"You have to have an operation for it to be properly diagnosed. There needs to be some sort of diagnosis – like a urine test. We shouldn't have to have an operation."
About two million women in the UK are affected by endometriosis.
This is where tissue from the lining of the womb is found outside the uterus, attached to organs such as the ovaries and the Fallopian tubes.
The exact cause of the condition isn't known, but it's thought it could be hereditary or due to environmental factors – namely the presence of dioxins in the environment.
Symptoms of endometriosis can vary, but the most common include painful or heavy periods, pain during and following sex, bleeding between periods, pain in the lower abdomen and difficulty conceiving.
Endometriosis can also cause sufferers to be constantly tired, and experience discomfort when using the toilet.
As outlined by Endometriosis UK, other key symptoms include: bleeding from the bowel, pain while urinating as well as back and leg pain.
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