Published: 16:38, 07 April 2021
| Updated: 16:40, 07 April 2021
More than 25,000 people have backed a student campaigning for women with endometriosis to have the chance to freeze their eggs on the NHS.
Rhiannon Hurll, from Yalding gained the support after setting up a petition to raise awareness for the often crippling condition she has been living with for eight years.
Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women in the UK. It occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
It can be incredibly painful and up to 50% of women will experience infertility problems as a result.
The only way to officially diagnose the condition is through a surgical procedure called a laparoscopy where a surgeon passes a thin tube through a small cut in the stomach to see any patches of endometriosis tissue.
According to the Royal College of Nursing, around 1.5 million women in the UK experience endometriosis which can take more than seven years to diagnose - by which time starting a family might prove to be a struggle.
The 20-year-old, who has undergone five operations to resolve the gynaecological disorder, has now started a drive to secure NHS funding for affected women to have their eggs frozen - a procedure which currently costs around £6,000.
The biomedical science student from the University of Kent said: "I have always been career focused and I was never bothered about having children but I always knew I wanted the option.
"It wasn't until I was told I might have problems it made me realise that actually I do want them in the future.
"Unless you have severe damage, doctors can't tell you if you're going to have fertility problems until you actually start trying.
"I'm not in a place in my life where I'm going to start trying. The one thing you can do to try and give you more of a guarantee is to freeze your eggs."
Further costs will be added for each year the eggs are stored, and when the time comes for them to be implanted.
The former Maidstone Grammar School for Girls pupil added: "Freezing my eggs could give me a bit of comfort and reassurance that I might be able to have kids because I can't explain the pressure it puts on relationships.
"It will give women like me a back up and I think this is an option every woman deserves."
As well as raising awareness, Miss Hurll also hopes to become a clinical embryologist to help couples get pregnant when she graduates.
Some 25,245 people have signed the petition so far meaning the government is required to provide a response.
If it reaches 100,000 signatures it will automatically be debated in parliament.
Soap opera EastEnders has recently shared a story highlighting the difficulties women with endometriosis face each day.
Over the next few months, characters Ruby and Martin will be learning to live with the condition, and will sadly experience some of the heart-breaking consequences along the way in a bid to shine a light on the condition.