BENT over clutching my stomach, I stumbled into the emergency department, desperate for someone to relieve me of an agonising pain.

It felt like shards of glass twisting inside my pelvis, cutting deeper with every move, writes Emily Roberts.

This was in 2014, before I knew I had a condition called endometriosis, which I later discovered was responsible for the horrific pain.

It was reported last week that Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) admitted 250 women with endometriosis in 2018-19, and 12 per cent of these were emergencies.

It horrifies and saddens me to know that so many women end up in A&E, like I did, for pain caused by endometriosis.

For me, it was a terrifying experience, and I recall feeling totally helpless as doctors performed all the necessary checks only to find absolutely nothing wrong with me.

At the time, my GP had already considered endometriosis and I was waiting for a referral to see a specialist.

However, when I mentioned this to a doctor in the emergency department, she curtly informed me I couldn't possibly have the condition because it would have shown up on a scan.

She was wrong.

Endometriosis can only be diagnosed by laparoscopy - a type of key hole surgery to look inside the pelvis.

It occurs when tissue similar to that which lines the womb is found elsewhere in the body.

Each month these cells react in the same way to those in the womb, building up and then breaking down and bleeding. But unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape, causing numerous symptoms including painful, heavy periods, infertility, fatigue, and bowel and bladder problems.

Around 1.5 million women in the UK are living with the condition.

It therefore frightens me that some health professionals don't seem to know the basics when it comes to endometriosis, which affects one in 10 women.

How many other women are dismissed as overreacting when they complain of debilitating pain?

I imagine the figure would be high, considering the percentage who end up in A&E according to the statistics from HHFT.

Most would probably have been suffering long before they visit the emergency department.

When I went in 2014, I was given pain relief, advised to use a hot water bottle and sent away, feeling distressed and confused.

It was another few months before I had a laparoscopy and diagnosed with stage three of four endometriosis.

Whilst waiting for the surgery, my life was seriously affected, with many days spent sat on the sofa curled up in pain, or in the GP surgery begging for better pain relief.

The drugs made my mind foggy, but that was better than being in constant pain.

The relief of being diagnosed and finally knowing what was wrong was short lived, when surgery to remove the endometriosis failed to make any difference.

It took years before I finally found a surgeon who was able to properly and effectively treat me, with hours spent researching the illness online and in books, until I was better informed than most doctors.

For now, I'm not suffering, but the condition isn't curable, so I often worry that it will, at some point, return.

I now run a support group for other women suffering from the condition, and raise awareness through my work as a journalist, with the hope that one day all women who visit their GP with pelvic pain are taken seriously.

It would be great to see the number of women visiting A&E with endometriosis reducing.

However, until women are believed when they describe debilitating pain, sadly they will continue to end up in the emergency department, desperate for help, just as I was.