WOMEN who have gone through miscarriage are calling for the issue to be made part of sex education classes in schools.

Charities have supported their calls and say the issue is surrounded by myths and they are determined to bring it into reality.

It comes after a popular comedy drama Fleabag this week sparked debate after a woman suffered a miscarriage in a public toilet.

Viewers took to social media to claim the scene was "unrealistic", while others said the comments highlighted the lack of understanding around how and where miscarriage happens.

Now, charities and women have called for the issue to be discussed in schools as part of normal sex education classes, and say this would help future generations understand how to cope and remove any taboo surrounding it.

Three Scottish women have spoken to the Herald on Sunday about the realities of their miscarriage in an attempt to break down stereotypes.

More than 5,700 women every year suffer a miscarriage in Scotland, and one in four pregnancies are affected by it.

Yet the issue is rarely discussed, according to campaigners, who are now calling for miscarriage to form part of school's sex education programmes.

Ruth Bender-Atik, national director at charity the Miscarriage Association, said by introducing the facts about miscarriage from an earlier age, young people would know how to get help.

"It's really important to have this as life education, sexual health education.

"It ought to be something which is talked about when we're teaching to young people about sexual activity and contraception.

"We should be talking about fertility and what happens when pregnancies go wrong, as well as preventing pregnancies and STDs.

"Miscarriage is part of life for very many people, and all of us know far more people we realise who have been through it."

Maureen Sharkey, head counsellor at Scottish Care and Information on Miscarriage (SCIM), said the true extent of miscarriage, and the reasons why it it happens, aren't fully understood.

"The only ones which are counted [in official figures] are the ones which require medical intervention," Ms Sharkey explained.

"There is no real pattern to it, there's not a lot of research around it either.

"We have been campaigning for years for women to be tested after one loss, rather than three consecutive losses. That way we would be able to understand more about it.

"It's cruel to make women have to have three miscarriages before she is able to get testing done."

In 2016, First Minster Nicola Sturgeon bravely opened up about her miscarriage at the age of 40, revealing that on the day she lost her baby she continued with work and attended an official memorial event.

Other women who spoke to the Herald on Sunday shared similar stories, including Madeleine Dunne, 22, who miscarried during her shift at a restaurant.

Madeleine, a freelance journalist from Edinburgh, said: "I was walking to a table with a pizza in my hand, and I had this incredibly sharp stabbing pain in my back and my stomach. I went to my boss and said I have to go to the bathroom but she was a bit annoyed - I was working in a hospitality job, it was a Friday night and it was very busy.

"I went in to the staff bathroom - a tiny box room with no light. I saw I was bleeding very heavily but I tried to tell myself this wasn't happening.

"I just couldn't process it whatsoever. I had no idea what to do, so I just continued my shift. I cleaned myself up and the second I left work I called my mum.

"I went to hospital and the nurses were incredible. They were so understanding and they knew I was in shock."

Madeleine said she felt completely ill-prepared to deal with miscarriage and admitted that she hadn't thought it was something that could happen to a woman in her early 20s.

She said: "I became depressed and I felt like there was something wrong with me for it having happened. I blamed myself, and it completely changed the way I looked at everything.

"I was overwhelmingly sad, and I felt like I didn't have the right to be sad. I wasn't a mum who had been trying for years to have children, I felt like I didn't deserve to be upset.

"Nobody around me had similar experiences of this either, so it's not as if I could ask anyone what to do. If they started talking about this with young people, like they do with protection and contraception, it might have been a different story in my case."

Laura Dow, from Bishopbriggs, had to take her miscarried baby to hospital in her handbag before waiting for hours in A&E to be seen.

The 35-year-old mum-of-three, who miscarried during her first pregnancy, said: "It was totally devastating. I was asked to come back a week later to confirm that nothing had changed and the baby had definitely passed away.

"I wanted to pass the embryo out naturally, but after two weeks nothing happened, so I had to take a tablet and it then happened at home.

"I passed the foetus at home. It didn't look like a baby or anything, I was only 12 weeks pregnant at the time. They told me to go to A&E with the foetus, so I had to wrap everything up and ended up putting it in my handbag.

"When I got taken in, the doctor asked 'How do you know you've had a miscarriage?' and I had to say 'Well, the foetus is in my bag'. He was very cold and clinical, the whole experience was.

"They made me go back out and sit in A&E for about three hours, before I was eventually taken up to a ward.

"I went to see my GP to see if I could be signed off from work as I couldn't cope. She said 'Well you know that wasn't a real baby.' It was one of the worst thing anyone could say."

Hazel Grant, 32, from South Ayrshire was 27 when she miscarried and said her experience has influenced her decision not to have any more children.

She said: "I first found out I had miscarried at the 12 week scan, having had no symptoms or signs that anything was wrong. I'd also had a private scan at about 9 weeks and baby was alive and well at that point.

"It was obviously a complete shock to me especially after having seen a live little baby only two weeks before hand.

"We were ushered into a private room and a midwife came and explained the options I had, which was surgery, taking medication to bring it on or waiting for it to happen naturally. Obviously I was in shock and really upset and when I was there the absolute last option I was considering was surgery, so decided to let things progress naturally. By the time I had got home and did the typical Googling, I started to realise that I wanted it all to be over as soon as possible and having read that some people wait weeks to miscarriage naturally, I called the midwife back the next day and asked to go with the surgical option.

"I was devastated beyond words, guilty that maybe it was my fault, shocked that it had happened to me. I knew it was a possibility as out of every woman I know who has been pregnant, only one of them has NOT experienced a miscarriage. At the time, one of my other friends had lost twins two months before it happened to me and my best friend had experienced one with her first pregnancy too.

"I felt like I couldn't talk about it much with people in real life, but I found an online support group on some parent forums and we made our own wee support group on Facebook to chat and rant and cry to each other about it all"

Hazel admitted that many people were uncomfortable talking about her miscarriage, and didn't know what to say - an experience shared by many women who have been through the same ordeal.

She said:"A lot of people didn't know what to say, beyond how sorry they were, which was enough for me. I did have a few comments along the lines of 'at least you know you can get pregnant' from well meaning people but this was literally the last thing I wanted to hear.

"Also a few people said 'It just wasn't meant to be' which, though they meant well is possibly one of the worst things to say. Even a doctor told me it was okay because at least I had managed to get pregnant."

Hazel had a successful pregnancy a short time later, but decided the stress due to the miscarriage was too much and she wouldn't have any more children.

She said: "In the end, our daughter came out healthy and happy, but my experience of miscarriage really removed any joy or excitement from being pregnant for me and we've decided to never have any more children because of it."

For support or help, visit www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk or www.miscarriagesupport.org.uk