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A model has urged schools to educate students on endometriosis after losing her kidney to the condition.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
One of the main complications of endometriosis is difficulty getting pregnant or not being able to get pregnant at all.
It can also cause painful or heavy periods, as well as bowel and bladder problems. Some have pain all the time, not just during their period.
Lauren Colfer, 31, from Shortlands in Bromley, lost her kidney as a result of endometriosis and wants more people – especially schoolkids – to be aware of how serious the condition is.
Despite one in ten women being affected by endometriosis, many people still aren't aware it even exists.
Lauren's endometriosis caused a blockage in the ureter over time, and slowly caused irreversible loss of her kidney function.
This went almost undetected for a long time, despite her going to the doctor with symptoms not dissimilar to urinary tract infections.
Tests were inconclusive until she had an ultrasound scan, which confirmed the kidney damage.
Lauren told South London Press: “I just want people to realise that endometriosis is not just period pain – it is a whole-body disease. Period problems are just the tip of the iceberg.”
The brunette, who works as a client service specialist and a model, was first diagnosed with endometriosis back in 2017.
She is currently recovering from an operation where she had excision surgery to remove endometriosis and to have her kidney removed.
Lauren wants more to be done in schools to help educate young girls and encourage sufferers to get diagnosed early.
She added: “It is not normal to need to have a day off work or school for period pain.
“Even though that is a sign that something is wrong, it is still brushed off and we are told from a young age that you just have to get on with it.
“I’m not saying we need to scare them, but we need to teach kids about it early as it could help them in the future.”
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It's not known what causes endometriosis and there is no definite cure but there are treatments available to help ease the symptoms.
These include over the counter painkillers and hormonal contraceptives.
Excision Surgery can also be used to cut away patches of endometriosis tissue but in more extreme cases, like Lauren's, the removal of all or part of an organ is required. There are often long wait times for the surgery.
Experts also recently claimed a life-changing endometriosis drug, Dichloroacetate, could offer hope to millions who suffer with the illness.
Lauren runs an Instagram page documenting her journey, which also provides information and support to other endometriosis sufferers.
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