two women offer tea and yoga to a third woman curled up in a ball with her back to them

Stop Telling Me To Do Yoga

When you’re dealing with a chronic illness, people who have never had chronic pain are often all too happy to explain what you need to do to feel better. These suggestions do come from a good place, I am not saying that people are callous or out to hurt us. However, I really wish people who aren’t suffering from endometriosis would keep their advice to themselves.

For example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been given the following advice:

“Try to do yoga, it’s really relaxing!”

“You should exercise when you’re on your period!”

“Have sex when you have cramps. An orgasm will really relax you.”

“Have you tried drinking [insert weird herbal tea here]?”

The truth about endometriosis pain

While all these suggestions are undoubtedly well-meaning, and might work for the women who provide me with this unsolicited advice, it is not helpful. And at worst, it’s condescending and insulting. It assumes that I have not tried already anything (and everything!) to alleviate the pain and make my life a bit more bearable.

I tend not to be open about my pain at all. I already have a high pain threshold and my history of many doctors disbelieving my pain has made me hesitant to admit how bad it is at times. When I finally do open up, I don’t want to be told what to do to mitigate my pain. Trust me, I have tried everything under the sun and nothing anyone can say will make a difference. For me, the only thing that helps dealing with the pain is medication.

If it worked, I'd already be doing it

That’s not to say that yoga can’t work for some people. Or that sex can’t be helpful. But if it worked for me, I’d already be doing that, so I don’t need someone who has no idea what I’m going through telling me what I already know.

Maybe “healthy” people just don’t know how to deal with chronic pain and/or chronic illnesses. I think that often advice is offered out of a sense of shame. But if you really wanted to help chronic pain sufferers, just listen. Sympathize. Tell us that you’re sorry we have endometriosis and help raise awareness for this disease.

What I really want to hear when I tell people about endometriosis is this:

“I’m so sorry to hear that.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

How to help

I’m happy to explain what endometriosis is. Trust me, once you get me talking about it, it’s hard to shut me up. I’m always willing to spread the word, because the more people know about this disease, the more support we can expect. Because in the end, that’s all I want: support. And maybe a sympathetic ear. But I don’t need unsolicited advice about a condition the other person knows nothing about, but which I have lived with for twenty years.

So please, stop telling me to do yoga. Instead, give me a hug, curse this disease with me, and provide a listening ear. That will help much better.

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