Olympic cycling gold medallist Elinor Barker speaks out over her battle with endometriosis
Olympic gold medallist cyclist Elinor Barker has spoken about the sense of 'freedom' she experienced after 'life-changing' surgery to treat endometriosis.
The condition occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the womb begins to grow in other places, such as the fallopian tubes and ovaries. Endometriosis, which is difficult to diagnose, can cause extreme pain, fatigue and heavy periods.
Barker, who won gold in the team pursuit at the Rio Olympics, said: “Since surgery, I’ve got a bit of freedom back.
"It wasn’t really nice feeling ill all the time. Or being in pain and constantly having to think about it and having it affect training sessions.
"It’s not completely gone and the idea is that I'll have surgery again in a few years. It does still affect me from time to time but not so much that I think anyone else would notice,” she told The Telegraph.
Barker's symptoms began at school with heavy periods but progressed to pain in her stomach, pelvis, back and femurs and by 2017 she'd had enough.
She said: "By 2017 I was going to doctors weekly, saying something is not right, I'm not accepting this is just periods.
"A few doctors said 'this is just something you need to put up with.' I thought I don’t think I can. I don’t want to be going through life with this kind of pain, never mind racing at a high level."
The 25-year-old said: "If I had known endometriosis existed, then I could have said yes, those are the symptoms and that’s what I’ve got. But if you don’t know something existed, you can’t really relate to it.
"Getting surgery was the only thing that really made a difference. It felt like I was physically carrying something around with me. Now I don’t have to anymore."