SINCE she was a teenager Victoria Key endured debilitating abdominal and bowel pains which could last for up to a week

Despite numerous visits to doctors, no explanation could be found.

Following years of living with her chronic symptoms Victoria, 42, from Clacton, eventually received a diagnosis after being rushed into hospital by ambulance with suspected appendicitis. Instead, she had a 6cm ovarian cyst removed.

Surgeons told Victoria she had endometriosis, a progressive disease which can damage the reproductive and other vital organs.

Up to half of women with endometriosis are affected by fertility issues and, at the time of her emergency surgery, Victoria and husband, Neal, had already been referred for fertility tests after trying to conceive for 18 months.

Now a mum-of-one after successful IVF treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic in Colchester, Victoria will be co-hosting a free webinar during Endometriosis Awareness Month in March.

She will be sharing her story to help raise awareness of the condition and the impact it can have on a woman’s fertility.

“I find it incredible now that none of my doctors ever flagged up with me that my symptoms could be endometriosis,” she said.

“I had always had really painful, heavy periods and would be in agony every month and have terrible bowel pain whenever I needed to go to the toilet.

“It was suggested I could have a urinary tract infection or kidney infection but it was neither.

“There are only so many times you can keep going back to your GP with the same thing, so I just put up with it.”

After Victoria’s initial diagnosis she underwent further specialist surgery to remove the endometrial tissue which had attached itself to her womb and bowels.

“We thought the odds were against us ever having a child, but our consultant told us that we were eligible for IVF on the NHS.

“I found the thought scary but it was an amazing opportunity.”

The couple had IVF treatment with intracytoplasmic sperm injection, a procedure where a single sperm is injected into the egg to fertilise it – and it was successful at the first attempt.

“When I found out that I was pregnant I was amazed and delighted but also terrified initially,” said Victoria.

“We had told very few people that we were having IVF treatment so it came as a real surprise to our friends when we shared our happy news.”

The couple’s son Alex was born at Colchester Hospital in August 2013. “He was just perfect,” said Victoria.

The webinar takes place on March 11 at 7pm. To register, go to