“My first period looked like a murder scene. It started when I was 10 years old, and I was rolling around in bed in so much pain that it woke me up,” recalls 33-year-old Bridie Apple, founder of the Flow. Grow. Glow. yoga community.
“When my mum turned on the lights, the blood was all along the wall. It had soaked through the whole mattress, and when I put my hands down to my tummy and around my pelvis, it was everywhere,” she says.
That horrifying first period lasted six weeks, during which time Bridie bled so heavily that she was changing a super size pad every half an hour. As for the pain, she says: “It was horrendous. I’d be doubled over, gripping onto things, while my friends just needed a hot water bottle and a bit of chocolate from their mums to cope with their periods.”
Despite this, it took six years for Bridie’s symptoms to be diagnosed as endometriosis – a common but little-known disease that affects one in 10 (1.5 million) women in the UK. “I think it would have taken even longer if my mum hadn’t believed in me and fought for doctors to listen,” she says.
Endometriosis is a condition where cells like the lining of the womb (the endometrium) are found elsewhere in the body – usually around other pelvic organs like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder and bowel. It’s a chronic and debilitating condition that causes painful or heavy periods, and can also lead to infertility, fatigue, and bowel and bladder problems.