A woman suffering from endometriosis said the condition meant her “menstrual cycle was like a murder scene”.
Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places.
An estimated one in 10 women are affected by it and one of the most common symptoms is severe period pain.
Despite the widespread nature of endometriosis, Doireann Barrett told Lunchtime Live there was “absolutely no information” available about it when she was a young woman and she was only diagnosed in 2005.
“I was basically told, ‘Do you want to have babies?” she said.
“‘If so, you’ve about seven years because you’ve got a severe spread of endometriosis.’”
Many women complain that there is a lack of awareness about endometriosis in the medical profession and doctors are often unsympathetic when patients come to them with symptoms.
Ms Barrett was lucky, she had the “most amazing GP” - but even he knew little about her condition.
“Even though he didn’t have a huge amount of access to information about endometriosis, he never dismissed me once in all the years and always pushed for tests,” she said.
Despite this, the condition continued to take a severe toll on so many aspects of her life.
“My mental health suffered because my oestrogen levels were dropping in my 20s,” she said.
“I was put into medical menopause twice before I was even 30, I had ablation surgeries which aren’t the proven route to treatment - excision is the gold standard.
“I didn’t get access to excision surgery until 2022, I had to travel to Dublin, go private and I didn’t have full cover on my private health insurance yet, so the surgery cost €20,000.
“I’ve spent so much money on medical appointments over the years because the treatment isn’t available to women in Ireland easily and accessibly.”
Ms Barrett previously worked for her parents and described herself as “very lucky” they were so accommodating towards her.
“There were days when my menstrual cycle was like a murder scene,” she said.
“I’d have to literally go home from the office, change my clothes or I’d have to lie down on the sofa in my father’s office and just try and have a 20 minute nap and get back to it.”
National Endometriosis Framework
In March, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly launched a development of the National Endometriosis Framework to “ensure women will receive timely, effective treatment”.
However, Ms Barrett said women with the condition deserve more urgency from the Department.
“I was at an event in June in Cork, hosted by UCC, and there was a decision maker on that framework present that day… and she said it could take five to 10 years to roll out the training,” she said.
“That is too long.”
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Main image: Doireann Barrett