A WOMAN who was diagnosed with a debilitating condition after 11 years of pain is walking to raise awareness and is urging other women to speak up instead of putting up with pain.

Annie Walker, from Darlington, is hoping to raise awareness about endometriosis – which affects about one in ten women but takes an average of seven and a half years to diagnose.

The condition means cells like the ones in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body, and react in a similar way, breaking down and bleeding each month, which can cause chronic pain and other symptoms including infertility and fatigue.

"Sometimes I feel like women with this kind of condition are still not taken seriously and pain can be branded as normal a lot of the time.

"But it gets to a certain level of pain and it's not right. It's not right you should be told it's normal," she said.

“The most important thing to me is that women stop thinking that pain surrounding their reproductive system is normal.

“If you feel there is something wrong then go to a doctor and push to be referred to a specialist. I wish I had done it earlier because I would be a lot further forward in my diagnosis and treatment than I am."

Darlington and Stockton Times:

The 25-year-old is doing a series of seven-and-a-half miles walks to raise awareness about the length of time it takes to diagnose endometriosis, which is the second most commonly diagnosed gynaecological condition in the UK.

She is raising money for Endometriosis UK, one of the main sources of information about it.

She said: "It's been a lifesaver for me. Since starting my walk for endo, I have come across a whole community of strong, like minded women with endometriosis and adenomyosis who have helped me gain back a sense of normality."

Miss Walker, a freelance designer, first experienced symptoms aged 13 and was diagnosed with adenomyosis and suspected endometriosis in February.

She is waiting to undergo an operation, which has been delayed because of coronavirus, to remove the cells from her body, which should relieve her pain.

She said: "I'm not on any treatment at the minute because of the operation so my pain level is quite bad now.

"There are probably only five days a month that are pain free.

"Right from when I started having periods at 13 it was always painful. Back then they put me on a contraceptive pill but when I came off it last year the pain doubled overnight.

"It was agonising. Being on the pill had masked half of the symptoms."

There is no cure for the condition, but it can be treated in a number of ways, including surgery, hormones and pain relief.

To find out more and to donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/anniewalksforendo.