Labour MP Louise Haigh shares experience of ruptured ovarian cyst to tackle stigma surrounding periods

Sarah Young
Labour MP Louise Haigh

A Labour MP has opened up about experiencing a ruptured ovarian cyst to help tackle the stigma surrounding periods.

On Tuesday, Louise Haigh made a speech during a debate on endometriosis workplace support at Westminster Hall.

The long-term condition, which can lead to symptoms including heavy periods, painful menstrual cramps and painful bowel movements, affects more than 1.5 million women in the UK, with the average diagnosis time currently standing at seven and a half years.

The 32-year-old, who suffers from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – a condition that causes irregular periods and fertility problems – revealed that she collapsed during a round of crucial Brexit votes last year which saw her admitted to A&E.

“I ended up staying in St Thomas’ for almost a week, hooked up to an IV and pumped full of antibiotics and painkillers,” Haigh said,

“I was eventually diagnosed with a cyst on one of my ovaries that had ruptured and caused an infection. Last week during a similar round of crucial Brexit votes I was back in A&E with the same problem and in excruciating pain.”

The MP added that the events left in her tears out of frustration that she was “dismissed” and told to “simply live with a syndrome that causes so much pain and risk on a monthly basis”.

In a Twitter thread after the event, Haigh revealed that she had not discussed her experiences with many people but realised that by not sharing her story, she was “perpetuating tropes” that talking about periods was “unclean and shameful”

“We need to normalise discussion about women’s health and about periods so that women can seek treatment and support for their condition,” Haigh wrote.

“By speaking out in Parliament, I hope that together we can seriously move this agenda forward and demonstrate to millions of women across the country that their voices are heard and that we no longer will allow them to suffer in silence.”

Haigh has since received messages of support from Twitter users, praising her for raising awareness of conditions like PCOS and endometriosis.

“Well done for speaking out, I know many women who struggle with these problems and they absolutely need more understanding and support,” one person commented.

Another wrote: “Yes!!!! It’s a lifelong debilitating condition in some cases. I’m a US patient but fully support your work. Thank you.”

The debate, which was held to help raise awareness of endometriosis in the workplace, was led by Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke.

Shelbrooke stated that raising awareness of the condition, especially amongst employers, was paramount to tackling this disease and that being aware of the chronic condition would help people be more understanding and sympathetic to those who suffer from it.

Earlier this month, MPs announced they would be launching an inquiry into endometriosis after thousands of women revealed how the condition negatively impacted their lives.

More than 13,500 women took part in a study conducted by the BBC, with nearly all of them stating the condition had been detrimental to their careers, sex lives and mental health.

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