Tired of feeling helpless and ignored Priya Patel-Modi has shared her experience of the often-misdiagnosed condition - Endometriosis - which affects 1.5 million women in the UK.

The keen sports enthusiast is hoping it might encourage others to openly speak up during the month-long awareness celebration.

Endometriosis occurs when cells similar to the ones in the lining of the womb grow outside of the uterus in areas such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder and elsewhere in the body. The debilitating condition is often referred to as a ‘whole body condition’ by ‘Endo Warriors’ and affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age in the UK.

It can only be confirmed with a surgical examination called a laparoscopy. This is carried out under general anaesthetic and patients can usually go home the same day.

The invisible nature of endometriosis can lead to its being downplayed by family and friends as merely having 'a nasty menstrual cycle', something every woman is expected to overcome. Endometriosis symptoms vary but often include pelvic pain, constipation and diarrhoea. These common symptoms can lead to women being misdiagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

Unfortunately, inequalities in the healthcare system have led to women, particularly those from a black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds feeling excluded from a discussion that is still sometimes seen as taboo in some communities.

Priya Patel-Modi, 31, from Hertfordshire, began experiencing severe flare-ups and pelvic pain in 2016. Doctors put her flare-ups and sudden food intolerances down to IBS. Following a visit to A&E, she was prescribed antibiotics and told it was nothing more than a urine infection.

Priya said: "For almost two years, I kept on insisting it wasn't just IBS. I was a petite size 8, eating well and into my fitness, but I suddenly went up by three dress sizes. It was hard to hold myself up at the time because I was having sharp pains down my legs and they flared daily.

“Hearing the doctor dismiss me left me feeling very emotional and helpless. I then became very emotional which then the doctor said I needed psychological help as it was all in my head.

"Finally, in February 2019, it was confirmed that I had endometriosis. I thought the end was near; my laparoscopy was supposed to start being put in place last March, but due to the global coronavirus pandemic my operation was cancelled."

Whilst awaiting her laparoscopy, Priya decided to combine her love of fashion and her passion for supporting women battling endometriosis by launching Embrace Endo in January.

Endometriosis Awareness Month runs throughout March.