A former Burnley actress is shining a light on a little-known condition for which there is currently no cure.
Kailey McGowan, who runs Something Good Theatre in Salford, will present romantic drama, It’s Probably Thrush, at Gullivers in Manchester on Thursday.
She wrote the play after being diagnosed with endometriosis, a long-term condition occurring when tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
The play highlights both the condition itself and the difficulties women often face when seeking support for their health.
Kailey (pictured with co-star Ryan Clarke) said: “A lot of women with endometriosis are dismissed by their doctors and their symptoms are put down to thrush, hysteria, hormones or being emotional.”
The illness affects one in 10 women and symptoms can include pelvic and period pain, pain during or after sex, feeling sick, constipation, diarrhoea, or blood in your pee during your period and difficulty getting pregnant.
But despite these fertility issues, Kailey added: “It makes you feel pregnant and you can be tested for that, as well as chlamydia or HIV.
“Doctors also often misdiagnose it as a fear of sex or think the pain is in your head.
“It’s important to get the name out there because it can be chronic and debilitating.
“The play reaches out to women as often they are passed off as not really being in much pain.
“This condition is only just coming to light and we want to help give it the credit it deserves, so that it’s recognised and taken seriously, including by employers.
“There’s still a taboo around women’s sexual health and the play’s title nods to this. When people think of thrush, they laugh, so we hope to help rid society of that taboo.”
Not surprisingly, sufferers can go on to develop anxiety and depression.
“Women can close in on themselves as they struggle to work or maintain friendships because of the pain they’re in,” Kailey said.
Endometriosis is explored in the play within the context of long-term couple Tom and Liv’s relationship. The pair have been trying to start a family when a discovery threatens to rock their connection forever.
“There needs to be a lot of open communication when it comes to this condition,” Kailey added.
“I’ve a supportive husband but I wanted to explore what it would be like for women who don’t.”
It’s Probably Thrush stars Kailey as Liv and Ryan Clarke as Tom while Georgi McKie is directing.
The show, which is suitable for ages 14 and above, is also being backed by Coronation Street actress Sacha Parkinson, an endometriosis sufferer and women’s health activist, who is attending a performance.
Kailey added: “What you can expect is a really raw, open and gritty account of a diagnosis with a working-class Northern female voice at the centre.
“I feel there’s a real gap in the theatre world for this kind of show and we’re really excited about where it might go.”
Thursday and Friday: 7-30pm, Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester. Friday, August 30th: 7-30pm, Co-op Academy, Blackley. There will also be a performance in November at Burnley Central Library.