Wellness·4 min read

Period Pain, Endometriosis, and Why You Don’t Have to Suffer

Woman's feet hanging off hospital bed in long red socks
Design: theSkimm | Photo: Getty Images
March 29, 2023

Endometriosis affects an estimated one in 10 women of reproductive age, but that’s likely a conservative estimate since it can be overlooked and take up to a decade to get diagnosed. “Too often, patients who have endometriosis have been told by providers that they have a low pain tolerance or need to learn to deal with it. This is absolutely not true,” says OB-GYN Dr. Natalie Crawford, co-founder of Fora Fertility clinic.

Why is it so hard to reach an endometriosis diagnosis?

“I honestly believe the reason why it takes so long to get diagnosed …  is that society is not comfortable talking about women’s health issues,” says Dr. Crawford. Compared to other common diseases that impact men, there’s been a lack of research funding and education around endo and other women’s health concerns

Decades ago, conditions like endo were considered psychological — a woman who complained about it would be called “hysterical.” Even in the ‘90s, it was dismissed as a “career woman’s disease” and pregnancy was suggested as a “cure.” Since there’s still such limited understanding, it’s no wonder doctors may still write off women’s endo pain symptoms as standard period cramps. 

What should I do if I’m worried about endo?

In some cases, women with endo don’t get diagnosed until they have trouble getting pregnant, but Dr. Crawford says it’s wise to get help ASAP. She recommends going to an OB-GYN you trust and saying something like: “I’m having very painful periods. I read about endometriosis, and I’m very concerned I have this. Are you capable of diagnosing this for me, or do you need to refer me to somebody else?”

The goal is to make sure you’re working with someone comfortable diagnosing and treating endo, so they can effectively help you. “Put the ball in their court because we’re all trained really differently … and if you’re getting dismissed, you can change doctors. You are completely allowed to change to a new health care team that is going to take your concerns seriously,” she says. 


“The biggest misconception is that there is nothing we can do for the pain of endometriosis,” says Dr. Crawford.  Although there isn’t a cure, treatment can combine surgical management and medication to manage symptoms. If you need more help, check out: the Endometriosis Association, Endometriosis Foundation, Endo Black, ACOG, and the Society for Women’s Health Research’s Endometriosis Toolkit.   

And Also… This 

Who’s being told they could ‘do more’…

The EPA. The agency is considering implementing stricter air quality standards to reduce pollution linked to serious heart and lung problems, among other health issues. However, new research suggests more lives could be saved (especially among Black and low-income communities) if the agency went further. 

While sugar substitutes face scrutiny

Salt substitutes may be getting a fair shake

Who faces discrimination, hostility, and ignorance at the doctor’s office…

Trans people.

What’s an ink-vasion your immune system can’t fight off…


Who’s being heard loud and clear…

People with misophonia, and they’d like you to chew with your mouth closed.  

Pooja Lakshmin holding her book "Real Self-Care"
Design: theSkimm | Photo: Stephen McFadden

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Pooja Lakshmin isn't here to offer the latest shiny wellness technique. Instead, she acknowledges that some things (like a 40-hour workweek without childcare) can't be meditated away. On Instagram, Twitter, and in her new book ”Real Self-Care,” Lakshmin provides actionable tips for when and how to say “no,” explains why “getting help is resistance,” and validates the need to rage-tweet. She's a psychiatrist, assistant professor, and entrepreneur who once joined (and then left) an "orgasmic meditation commune." Her message may be validating to anyone who feels “the guilt and shame of not being able to be everything to everyone,” she says. “What we’re feeling isn't our fault. It's not burnout, it's betrayal, at a societal level.” 

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute a medical opinion, medical advice, or diagnosis or treatment of any particular condition. 

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