It's a condition that is as prevalent as asthma or type two diabetes, but 54 percent of the general population do not know what it is.

Dr Gareth Nye, a lecturer at Chester Medical School, specialising in female health, has been speaking as part of Endometriosis Awareness Month this March, to explain the condition and why recognising it is so important.

Dr Nye said: "It has been estimated that one in every 10 women between 15 and 49 suffer from endometriosis, affecting approximately 176 million women in the world, or nearly three times the population of the UK.

"It develops when the cells/tissue that resemble the part of the womb which sheds during menstruation are found in locations outside of the womb.

"This can occur in a number of places, but in 60 per cent it’s found in the ovaries, leading to the fertility issues.

"This tissue is found by the immune system, which thinks it is harmful to the body and acts to remove it, leading to inflammation and pain.

"To make matters worse, the tissue is still acting like the endometrial lining and so, as the monthly hormonal cycles occur, you can see growth of the tissues and even bleeding."

As a long-term disease, with significant impact on individual's lives and wellbeing, the associated healthcare cost on the UK economy is £8.2 billion a year, however it remains a relative unknown for over half of the population - including both women and men.

The accepted theory as to why the condition occurs relates to the endometrium (womb lining) moving out of the womb during a period but instead of leaving the body, this material becomes attached to other regions such as the ovaries - or in rare cases the bowel, kidneys and even lungs- resulting in chronic pain and possible infertility.

Dr Nye adds: "Most patients report some pain but symptoms can range widely from patient to patient and also vary depending on the time of the month as the hormonal changes occur during the normal cycles.

"Other symptoms include chronic pelvic pain, painful periods, painful sex, bowel and bladder problems and tiredness. What is more significant to women suffering with this condition however, is that in a third of cases infertility is reported."

This has serious emotional and physical implications, however the condition can take up to seven and half years, on average, from first symptoms to formal diagnosis.

"There is a wide felt taboo around discussing women's reproductive conditions and some women may feel unable to seek help. This is made worse as over half of non-gynaecologists reportedly are not familiar with the correct guidelines.

"Many centres globally are looking at new ways to diagnose endometriosis rapidly and effectively although this is currently some way off but will undoubtedly improve the current time to diagnosis.

"Endometriosis Awareness Month is a major spearhead to raise much needed awareness and there are many events seen all around the world in support of this campaign.

"Ultimately though, society and people in power must understand what a life-changing disorder endometriosis really is before we see tangible change."

There is currently no cure for the disease, even when diagnosed and treatment options are typically restricted to pain relief, hormone medication or surgery to remove affected regions.

The Chester Medical School lecturer says that his organisation places reproduction, pregnancy and maternal health at the forefront of their modules in order to provide its students with a thorough understanding and the ability to recognise such debilitating conditions.