A debilitating condition which affects up to 20,000 women in Leeds will be investigated by an influential group of local politicians.
It follows calls from Leeds City Council’s executive member for Adults and Health, Coun Jonathan Pryor, to look into how women in Leeds are affected by endometriosis, a condition which can cause extremely painful and heavy periods.
Members of the authority’s Adults and Health scrutiny board agreed to launch an inquiry into how the condition affects women in the city.
Speaking to the board, Coun Pryor said: “We want to reduce the stigma about talking about menstruation. We want girls to feel comfortable talking to their teachers and peers about it and we want to normalise the conversation.
“It may just be dismissed as a heavy period and some women suffer for years before it is diagnosed. People do need to know that this condition does exist, and it affects a phenomenal amount of women.
“It’s not just about a late diagnoses, it is also about them having to travel further afield for treatment.”
“It is an issue that will affect a large number of women across the city.”
Coun Pryor was supported on the issue by Conservative councillor Matthew Robinson, who added: “The number of women suffering is astounding.
“The mental health impact of this – to be consistently dismissed by medical practitioners that it is just a heavy period – is wrong.
“There is an issue around diagnosis and making sure the health service is aware of this. Scrutiny can do so much to raise the issue.”
The meeting was told that between 10,000-20,000 women in Leeds were estimated to suffer from the condition.
Endometriosis is thought to affect 1.5 million women in the UK, and sees cells like those in the lining of the womb found elsewhere in the body.
It is a chronic and debilitating condition that causes painful or heavy periods. It can also lead to infertility, fatigue and bowel and bladder problems.
Chairing the meeting, Coun Helen Hayden (Lab) suggested widening the scope of the inquiry, adding: “There is an appetite to discuss the wider reproductive health. Endometriosis must be horrific, but there is also time lost from school and work due to PMS.
“When you have babies, there are complications that can sometimes cause.
“It’s something we do need to talk about and they needn’t suffer in silence.”
The board agreed to launch an inquiry.