Teaching children about health includes women’s health.
Knowledge is power: Include PCOS and endometriosis in the secondary school health curriculum
PCOS and endometriosis affect one in ten women, making them two of the UK’s most prevalent gynaecological disorders.
What is this campaign about?
Ultimately, it’s all about improving women’s health.
If left undiagnosed, women with PCOS are at risk of potentially life-threatening secondary conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and endometrial cancer, while those with endometriosis face chronic pain and may need surgical interventions.
By making PCOS and endometriosis education mandatory, we can improve awareness of both conditions, helping to ensure earlier diagnosis and healthier lives for everyone who’s affected.
Rise up for the Cysterhood
It’s time to break down the stigma that surrounds women’s health, normalise conversations about problematic periods, and equip our young people with the knowledge and support they need to thrive.
70% of women living with PCOS remain undiagnosed, and it takes an average of eight years to receive an endometriosis diagnosis in the UK. This lack of awareness results in years of unexplained symptoms andunnecessary anguish.
Of course, we need change to come from inside the medical system too, with better training and awareness for GPs and other healthcare professionals. But teaching young people about these conditions is the other vital piece of the puzzle, empowering them to seek help earlier to ensure a faster diagnosis and prevent years of unnecessary suffering.
It’s time to do better.
We need 100,000 signatures for the Government to discuss this petition in parliment and change policy
Why I want change.
Hi, I’m Leila, the founder of MyOva, and I lived with undiagnosed PCOS for five years before receiving a diagnosis at 19 years old.
Unfortunately, my GP at the time gave me very little advice and no support. I was misinformed about the condition, including its impact on my fertility, which later led to an unwanted pregnancy and termination. This traumatic experience left me with shame, sadness and guilt until many years later, when I realised I’d been let down by the system.
As young people we’re all the more dependent on the advice of medical professionals. If we’re not correctly informed, it can put us in very difficult – even life-threatening – situations.
This experience showed me the knowledge gap that exists around these very prevalent health conditions. Education is vital to ensuring more people are supported, not stranded, after diagnosis.
What's happened so far?
In recent years the government has made some progress when it comes to teaching about women’s health in schools. In 2020, menstruation and the menopause were finally added to the national curriculum, which states that:
‘Pupils should be taught key facts about the menstrual cycle including what is an average period, range of menstrual products and the implications for emotional and physical health.’
Talking about periods is a big step forward, but it’s not enough…
While this is a welcome addition, it only scratches the surface of the breadth of menstrual issues that pupils may face.
By not specifically teaching about PCOS and endometriosis, this curriculum will still leave ar too many girls in the dark about their bodies and the symptoms to look out for.
Let’s hold the Government accountable
In July 2022, the government also published its first ever Women’s Health Strategy for England. This recognises that not enough focus has historically been placed on female-specific issues, and sets out the government’s ten-year ambitions to tackle this. On PCOS and endometriosis, this includes ensuring that:
‘Women and girls are empowered to stay well throughout their lives, including through self-care.
Women and girls have an awareness of the different gynaecological conditions, such as endometriosis and PCOS, and less well-known conditions such as adenomyosis, and an understanding of what a normal menstrual cycle should look like for them.
Women and girls know where, when and how to seek help for menstrual or gynaecological symptoms, and what support and care they can expect.’
These are fantastic ambitions, but radical action is needed to make them a reality as soon as possible. Let’s hold the government accountable to these promises, and make the case for an education system that helps to fill in the gaps.
Find out more about Endrometriosis & PCOS
Endometriosis UK is an organisation that provides vital support services, reliable information and a community for those affected by endometriosis.
Verity is a charity founded to help and support those living with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).