Guest blog at the Edinburgh Fringe: Up Her Sleeve on Why Menstrual Health Education is More Important than Ever

You’ve probably seen the fact that endometriosis is as common as diabetes plastered over billboards, newspapers and the TV recently. If you haven’t I’ll fill you in. Endometriosis is as common as diabetes and Channel 5 have recently decided to create a 4 part documentary to better equip menstruators with information that they may need. Endometriosis affects 6-10% of mensurators, takes, on average, 8-9 years to be diagnosed and is the presence of  tissue like the womb lining outside of the womb, in places such as; the pelvic wall, ovaries, bladder and bowel. Some symptoms can include; pelvic pain, painful intercourse, debilitating period pain (that stops you performing daily activities), irregular periods, pain urinating or passing bowels whilst being on your period, sickness, constipation, diarrhoea, blood in your urination and difficulty conceiving. 

You may be thinking, ”well ok, if someone gets all of these symptoms then they can go to the doctor… but hang on, then wait 8-9 years for a diagnosis?” See, the problem about having a severe lack of education surrounding menstrual health is that people who are dealing with these symptoms don’t tend to know that they are not normal. Imagine you have been dealing with debilitating period pain or irregular periods since you started getting them at age 12, by 25 that pain and irregularity would seem pretty normal right? You may even think that your experience is the same as everyone else’s, because the problem is; the lack of education causes a lack of conversation and the result is menstruators suffering in silence. 

Let’s think back to the list of symptoms I just mentioned. Now what if I told you that at least 5 other conditions have cross over symptoms on their list of things to look out for. So while mesturators may be living their lives thinking any of these symptoms are ‘normal’ they may be walking around with; endometriosis, ovarian cysts, ovarian tumours, ovarian cancer or polycystic ovary syndrome. 

Heavy or irregular periods need to stop being seen as a problem to be fixed and start being recognised as a symptom of something that needs to be diagnosed, in the US there are medical professionals who are going as far as trying to even make menstrual health one of the vital signs. 

1.5 million people in the UK have endometriosis, making it as common as diabetes, 3.5 million people in the UK have polycystic ovary syndrome, there are around 7,500 new ovarian cancer diagnoses every year and ovarian cysts are present in 17% of ovary owners. 

So if the above are so common, then why aren’t we talking about them? Hopefully the  documentary will be a catalyst to change this and I hope that our dark comedy, ‘Up Her Sleeve’, which is based on my experience of getting diagnosed with an ovarian disorder, will be a part of starting these conversations. The play follows Daphne’s journey whilst she has an imaginary therapy session with one of her eggs, and you can find us at Greenside, Riddles Court at 9:55 pm every evening till Saturday.

Full show details and booking here….