Leah Williamson, the England women’s football team captain, has revealed she suffers from endometriosis. The Lioness spoke about the condition in a recent interview saying she feared it would jeopardise her participation in last summer’s European Championship.
Williamson led the Lionesses to victory against German in the Wembley final, which saw a record number of fans in the stands, and catapulted women’s football into the limelight. However, anxiety her endometriosis would flare up and leave her lying in agony was consistent throughout the tournament.
Many women suffer with the condition which involves tissue similar to uterine lining growing outside the womb. The condition leads to numerous issues including intestinal trouble and back problems as well as extreme pain during menstruation and, in some cases, infertility.
Speaking to Women’s Health magazine, the 25-year-old Arsenal defender said: “I was like, it cannot happen [a flare up during the Euros]. It [not being able to play] is a big fear when you get to a tournament not injured.”
Williamson suffered an injury shortly before the Euros that eventually provoked a bout of particularly acute menstrual pain. She said: “I had a concussion which they say can really impact your next period and it was bad – like, really bad.”
She described her experience with the condition, telling the publication: “You know when you’re on the bathroom floor and, like, can’t move. When it’s too late to take the tablets because I’m, like, in it now.”
She said: “You get to a certain age when you actually say this is a really big f…ing problem. I’m pretty sure if men had periods we’d have figured out a way to stop them by now without doing any damage.” Williamson added that period pain remains “a really big f***ing problem” for female athletes.
The Lioness is not the only person to come forward and add her voice to calls for greater awareness of a problem that disrupts so many female lives. Chelsea manager, Emma Hayes spoke out about her experience with endometriosis in October 2022. Hayes highlighted how little the condition is publicised, and spoke about being rushed into hospital for an emergency hysterectomy after her pain became unbearable.