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A woman who described herself as feeling paralysed during sex was told her symptoms were "part of being female".
Emma Maxwell, 21, suffered from heavy periods during her teens where she battled bleeding, bloating, cramps and lower back pain.
After teachers punished her for skipping school at the age of 15, she decided to go to the doctor to explain her symptoms.
Unfortunately, MRI scans and ultrasounds failed to show anything abnormal so she was told her periods were "natural".
During the next three years, Emma was prescribed over 10 different birth control pills to help with the pain, which didn't help.
Then Emma, from New Hampshire, US, discovered her symptoms were often associated with endometriosis.
This is where the tissue which resembles the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places like the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Despite telling her medics about the condition, Emma was told to "let the doctors do their job".
In 2018, she visited a gastroenterologist where she was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and put on medication to help.
But the medication caused the pain to get worse and the diagnosis didn't explain her back problems and pain during sex.
Emma described feeling paralysed during sex with the thought even causing her to experience shooting pains.
Feeling completely hopeless, Emma began to suffer from depression before she was officially diagnosed with endometriosis in 2019.
She underwent surgery to remove the abnormal scar tissue which has since alleviated some symptoms.
Emma said: "My journey with endometriosis started when I got my first period aged 13.
"When I got my period, I found myself living in the nurse's office at school. My teachers would even punish me for 'skipping' class.
"I had painful and irregular periods, cramps, heavy bleeding, bloating and fatigue.
"My doctors told me that the pain I was experiencing was just part of being a girl."
She added: "I was in pain all the time and I always looked like I was six months pregnant and I was unable to eat or drink without pain.
"Aged 17, I brought up the possibility of endometriosis to my primary care physician.
"I had stumbled across an article online and it seemed like all of my symptoms matched up.
"I was put on yet another birth control pill and told I needed to 'stop researching my symptoms' and to 'let the doctors do their job'.
"I felt hopeless – like my pain wasn't real and like I was just being over dramatic."
Emma book an appointment with a gynecologist in September 2019 after experiencing further pelvic pain.
She continued: "My surgery two weeks later proved I did indeed have endometriosis – and quite a bit of it.
"After years of doctors telling me to stop trusting my gut, I am so glad I kept trudging along.
"Sex and endometriosis is still a really tricky thing to talk about.
"At 21, you think you are supposed to be able to have sex and that it's supposed to be enjoyable."
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Luckily Emma's boyfriend Jake, 22, has been supportive of her condition during their relationship.
And now she wants to spread awareness of the condition.
She said: "The more people that I meet, the more I realise how widespread this is and how many people have to deal with this issue.
"There really isn't enough awareness for a condition that affects one in ten women.
"I created my Instagram to cope with my diagnosis, to spread awareness, share my story and to let people know they are not alone."
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