It has happened to me several times now. Someone asks how I’ve been feeling and to my response they say, “Ah, yes. M has bad periods, too.” I know this answer comes from someone who doesn’t have endometriosis and is trying to sympathize. Still, reducing endometriosis to a “bad period” is a simplistic statement with troubling ramifications.
It encourages misdiagnoses.
It takes an average of eight years to diagnose endometriosis. That’s almost a decade of fertility issues, chronic pain, hospitalization, and medical bills. Labeling a woman’s suffering as “bad periods” delays a correct diagnosis. This is especially harmful when experienced at a doctor’s surgery. I’ve been “diagnosed” with having a bad period many times. However, endometriosis is so much more than that.
It normalizes suffering.
The cliché about women becoming difficult during their periods is no surprise. Our society expects women suffering from severe blood loss and chronic pain to function perfectly. Labeling their condition as a bad period accepts their suffering as normal. The truth is, periods don’t ruin a career or make a woman difficult, illness does.
It pits you against healthy people.
You wouldn’t say to someone with a broken leg how your own leg “also hurts” after a day on your feet. It’s lazy and shows a complete lack of empathy. Comparing a person who suffers from a chronic illness to someone with bad period cramps is extremely unfair.
Finally, and most importantly, bad periods can be indicators of underlying health issues. There’s a medical reason behind the symptoms. Women’s health issues have been dismissed for years. It’s time we stop the habit of minimizing female pain.
If it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably more than a bad period.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.