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New Books That Deal with Women’s Pain and Endo

As a dedicated bibliophile, I often have my face nose-deep in a book most of the time when I am not working or in too much pain to read. I used to read mainly fiction and poetry, but in recent years, I’ve developed a strong taste for good creative nonfiction, especially memoir. Yet, I still did not find many memoirs or nonfiction books that delved into the subjects of pain and disease, at least in a way that resonated with me.

A fresh perspective

However, that seems to be quickly changing, as several nonfiction books have come out just in the past year that explore female pain, many blending aspects of memoir and reporting. For instance, there is the new Maya Dusenbery book, Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick. This book really goes into the history of how the field of medicine both has historically ignored and downplayed female pain, and largely continues to do so today. It’s heavy on facts and stats, but also contains compelling coverage of specific women’s experiences.

There’s another book by Michele Lent Hirsch, released around the same time, that explores this general topic as well. It’s called Invisible: How Young Women with Serious Health Issues Navigate Work, Relationships, and the Pressure to Seem Just Fine. This one has a much different style than the Dusenbery book, as it explores more of the author’s personal experience and relies more on the anecdotes of the women she interviews, and therefore, is less data-heavy. Both books contain at least some references to endometriosis and interviews with women who have the disease, though it many other diseases and disorders are described as well.

My favorite new book

However, my favorite book in this emerging canon so far is Abby Norman’s Ask Me About My Uterus (A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women’s Pain). While the second part of the title made me think this would be more of an investigatory journey into endometriosis, it largely reads as a personal memoir of a woman suffering from endo. As such, it focuses more on the disease in comparison to the two other books. By offering more autobiography that extends beyond her disease, Norman enables the reader to view her as much more than just a patient and therefore, makes the reader more invested in her diagnosis journey and attempts at recovery (or at least, somewhat successful management of her endo). Many of the accounts of being repeatedly dismissed by doctors felt familiar to me. I also like the descriptions of how she carves out a life for herself that works with her body (something that many people with chronic illness have to do, but is rarely described or offered much airplay).

Reading books like Norman’s help me feel less alone in my experience of endo, as well as a women who suffers from chronic pain and illness. It also, in some ways, offers a road map for different ways to approach doctors or uncover the underlying culprits to one’s symptoms. If anything else, these books will help de-stigmatize female pain and make the medical community more aware of its regressive practices and routine stereotyping of women’s pain. These books have the power to help break down barriers about how women are treated as patients, especially in exploring the potentially life-altering or fatal consequences. By doing so, these books can actually help save some lives.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.