A St Albans businesswoman is at the forefront of a national campaign to encourage schools to teach about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis on the curriculum.

Mother of two Leila Martyn, 45, aims to break the stigma and normalise talking about reproductive health from an early age with her campaign Youth Matters for PCOS and Endometriosis.

Leila endured PCOS for four years before receiving a diagnosis at 19 years old: "Unfortunately my GP at the time didn’t explain what PCOS was and only told me that I would find it difficult to have a baby. Months later, this led to careless decisions that resulted in an unwanted pregnancy that I decided to terminate, which was extremely traumatic.

"And then, when I wanted to start a family later on in life, I suffered recurrent miscarriages, which I was convinced resulted from my PCOS. This inspired me to launch my women’s health company MyOva, so I could help and support other women going through similar circumstances.

“My traumatic experience left me with huge amounts of shame and anguish. Looking back, I now realise that I was hugely let down by the system and the massive gap in general awareness and education around this common women's health condition. I am determined to ensure that PCOS and endometriosis is positively and openly spoken about early on in life so that no one has the same experience as me.”

Leila, who used a private recurrent miscarriage specialist to have her two children aged five and three, has since set up a PCOS support network online and works alongside registered dietician Jodie Relf to campaign for an increase in knowledge and awareness from a young age upwards.

Despite The Women's Health Strategy for England report 2022 highlighting the importance of PCOS and endometriosis education, the government has still not introduced either subject onto the National Curriculum.

In the UK, one in 10 girls, women and people who ovulate are living with PCOS and endometriosis, but it is estimated that up to 70 per cent do not know that they have PCOS and there is currently an eight-year diagnosis time for endometriosis.

In PCOS, earlier diagnoses can prevent other secondary conditions like type 2 diabetes, endometrial cancer, pregnancy complications including gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and premature delivery, cardiovascular disease (CVD), sleep apnoea and depression and mental health issues caused by symptoms.

The petition is now open and will run for six months. If it achieves 100,000 signatures, the topic will be considered for debate in parliament.

The petition can be found here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/623415