A woman with endometriosis has revealed how she 'pleaded' with her doctors for a hysterectomy to remove her womb - but claimed she was refused due to her age and childless status.
Hannah Lockhart, 23, from Bangor, Northern Ireland, suffers from the long-term condition which sees tissue similar to the womb lining grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
The pain has become so bad, Hannah is now unable to go to the bathroom alone, and uses a wheelchair to move around.
She said she had been looking forward to starting a family with her fiancé Christopher Lowry but is now 'pleading' with doctors for a hysterectomy due to crippling pain, which has seen her hospitalised seven times in the last year.
Speaking to BBC's Evening Extra, Hannah explained: 'Having children to me was one of the most important things...I don't think I will ever get over the fact that I won't have my own children naturally - that's hard to come to terms with.'
She said she has begged for her womb to be removed to relieve her - but claimed doctors have refused, adding: 'They have told me before that if I had been 10-15 years older and had a family of my own, it would not be an issue.'
Hannah Lockhart, 23, from Bangor, who has endometriosis has revealed how she 'pleaded' with her doctors for a hysterectomy to remove her womb - but claimed she was refused due to her age and childless status
Hannah said her pain began in her early teenage years but has been gradually worsening, resulting in her starting to use a wheelchair at the end of last year due to difficulty walking.
She said: 'Whenever I first got periods, from the very beginning, my periods were very heavy and very painful.
'It got to a point where I was taking pain relief, very heavy pain relief, every month.
'I would be off school, there were days I couldn't get out of bed or leave the month. It was the same cycle every single month.
Hannah said she had been looking forward to starting a family with her fiancé Christopher Lowry but is now 'pleading' with doctors for a hysterectomy due to her symptoms worsening
'I had a dread every month of this coming, I knew the pain that was coming and I knew how heavy it was going to be.'
She said she was about 15 or 16 when she 'realised this wasn't normal', saying: 'We went to the GP seevral times and their answer was just to put me on the pill. I don't know how many different pills I tried.
WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS?
Endometriosis occurs when cells in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body.
Each month, these cells react in the same way as those in the womb; building up, breaking down and bleeding. Yet, the blood has no way to escape the body.
Symptoms include pain, heavy periods and fatigue, as well as a higher risk of infertility, and bowel and bladder problems.
Its cause is unknown but may be genetic, related to problems with the immune system or exposure to chemicals.
Treatment focuses on pain relief and improving quality of life, which may include surgery or hormone treatment.
Source: Endometriosis UK
'The pill comes with side effects too, it severely affects your mood as well.'
'I then started to get pain throughout the month, so it wasn't just on my cycle, so it was real sharp stabbing pains when you would be fine one minute and then you'd be on the floor.'
She was then referred on to doctors who she said told her: 'Teenagers get pains and there is nothing we can do.'
She said endometriosis was 'never mentioned', adding: 'It was us who bought it up to the doctors because nobody would bring it up to me. If it had have been mentioned years ago, I wouldn't be in the position I am in now.
'To be diagnosed earlier would have made such a difference. I wold have known what was wrong with me, instead of getting past from post to post. All the invasive tests I was put through...I perhaps wouldn't have needed to go through that.'
'Whenever you're so young, they don't want to affect your fertility or operate. They're very against it. It's a constant battle we're up against'
She said hospital stays started last June and said she had been admitted 7 times in the past 10 months, with each stay being at least 1 week.
She said: 'Last June, I started to lose the feeling in my right leg and I couldn't walk or stand on it. I went to hospital the next day, and they had to rush me to surgery. I was in for a week after that, then I was home for a week, then in again for another few days.
'Over the summer, I felt my symptoms were settling down every day. I was in pain, but it wasn't as bad.
'But In November, it was as though I'd taken 10 steps backwards.'
She said she collapsed while at work and was taken back into hospital for a week, explaining: 'People don't understand the impact it has on your body.'
She added the fatigue is the worst part, saying: 'There are days I can't get out of bed, I'm so so sore.'
Hannah said she would be 'no use' to a child as a mother because of her chronic pain and revealed that she has looked into adoption with her partner
She said the pain she suffers from is 'beyond a 10', saying: 'It was only a week ago I was in hospital, yelling and yelling out in pain for someone to help me. They just don't know what to do.'
Hannah, who is wheelchair-bound due to the condition, continued: 'Every single day I'm taking morphine, I'm taking different tablets for nerves to try and stop the pain and nothing works.'
She insisted that the chronic pain is 'far, far more' than a 'heavy period' once a month and claimed that the condition has 'damaged' multiple areas of her body.
Hannah needs a urinary catheter to go to the toilet and is already going through the menopause due to complications from the disease and emergency surgery last summer.
She said: 'Being in menopause at 23 isn't very nice at all.'
Because of her early menopause, Hannah has to take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to try and 'calm down' her symptoms.
She explained: 'Mine has spread to my bowel, it's right through to my back and it has also completely damaged my bladder to the point that I can no longer use the bathroom myself.'
Hannah said she had been looking forward to starting a family with her fiancé Christopher Lowry but is now 'pleading' with doctors for a hysterectomy due to her symptoms worsening.
A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus and would leave Hannah unable to get pregnant following the surgery - but endometriosis can also lead to infertility.
Hannah said she believes she has been refused a hysterectomy due to the fact that she is young and doesn't have children.
She explained: 'Back in December I pleaded with the doctor. I was literally begging her, in particular to remove my right ovary which is constantly growing cysts.
'I have said to them, "Can you please just do whatever it takes here?"'
When asked whether doctors had explained why they wouldn't give her a hysterectomy, she said: 'It's simply because of my age.
'I have laid in hospital with women 10-15 years older than me who are having hysterectomies. It is purely because of my age.
'It's heartbreaking that just because I am so young, I have to keep suffering.'
Hannah said she would be 'no use' to a child as a mother because of her chronic pain and revealed that she has looked into adoption with her partner.
She explained: 'At the end of the day I know that it's not giving birth to a child that makes you a mum - it's the love and the life that you provide for that child that makes you a mother.'
MailOnline has contacted South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust for comment.