Jaime King: ‘We grow up [believing] menstruation is not supposed to be painful’


Jaime King is a pretty strong person. Not only did she transition from runway to film with enough success to maintain a career for two decades but she overcame a heroin addiction and infertility to give birth to two sons, James and Leo. Jaime has been very open about her struggle to get and stay pregnant and it wasn’t until after her first child that she found out why. Jaime suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis, which led to years of failed infertility treatments and the heartache of multiple miscarriages. Fortunately, Jaime has spoken out many times on the subject to help shed light on it. Now she’s expanding the discussion on PCOS and endometriosis to menstruation so that women don’t go undiagnosed for years like she did.

A big shift in me happened when I was diagnosed with endometriosis and poly-cystic ovary syndrome, which are very painful reproductive illnesses. I also had countless miscarriages and almost lost my children.

I thought that because my womb didn’t work the way I was taught it should work, I was broken. We are told as women that our great value is to be able to carry life, to carry a child. If we’re fertile and abundant, we’re a worthy goddess. But for some reason, those parts don’t function for some of us.

When I was told I couldn’t carry a child, it crushed me in a way that was so much deeper than I could explain. I felt ashamed that I was suffering every day. I would wake up in pools of blood, and feel ashamed. And then I said, fuck this. I’m not going to be ashamed.

We need to talk about these things. We grow up with a mentality that menstruation is not supposed to be painful, and if it is, you deal with it yourself and don’t complain. We need to talk about this and spread as much awareness as we can. Girls as young as 12 get diagnosed with endometriosis and PCOS. When you’re living with it, it can be constant agony.

The possibility of Planned Parenthood being defunded sends me into such a rage. The free birth control provided by Planned Parenthood not only suppresses endometriosis, but also protects your fertility. So girls who don’t know they have endometriosis are at least treating it with birth control and taking the only medication out there to suppress these conditions. It’s preserving life.

[From Galore]

Reading this article gave me a little context to when she said, “Pregnancy is the ultimate symbol of womanhood, beauty and sensuality…”, which is a sentiment I can’t stand. Have a baby or don’t – every person who identifies as a woman is the ultimate symbol of womanhood. I had long held this against Jaime but it sounds like it was much more of a reaction of how she felt her own body had failed her when she was trying to conceive. That is a traumatic experience and I can’t judge how she processed it. This excerpt sounds like she’s shifted her thoughts since her diagnosis, like she realizes the way she viewed her inability to reproduce was taught to her and that that is not a healthy thing to perpetuate. Good for her, it takes a big person to admit they’ve changed their mind and it’s healthy for people to hear.

I have never suffered from PCOS or endometriosis but I understand from those who have that it’s brutal. I did have crippling cramps in my youth. I mean vomit-from-the-pain agony. I decided at the age of 14 to have a hysterectomy to end it. My doctor talked me into birth control pills instead, which I guess I am grateful for now. So, yes, I agree we need to talk about it. I cannot believe that needs to be said in 2017. If a girl can be diagnosed at age 12 and allowed to manage what would otherwise be a lifetime of pain, shouldn’t she be?




Photo credit: WENN Photos

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88 Responses to “Jaime King: ‘We grow up [believing] menstruation is not supposed to be painful’”

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  1. Loopy says:

    ‘ I decided at the age of 14 to have a hysterectomy ‘ wow excuse my ignorance ,i wouldnt even think that would be allowed at such an age,as in elective.

    • Shelly says:

      It’s not an alternative, she is explaining that the pain was so bad at that age she felt as a response it was her only option.
      This was her 14 year old self, who lived in agony wanting this.

  2. Jane says:

    This is such an important topic to speak about. So many women suffer – as if unnecessary and debilitating pain is crucial to the female identity.

    • GiBee says:

      Well, how else do you keep women in line? And “obedient”?
      Deny them information, education, medical attention.
      The men doing this have a very specific agenda.

      • Hikaru says:

        So sad and so true.

      • Wren says:

        It’s not even just men. Enough women buy into this ideology that we’ve essentially become self-policing.

      • LeManda says:

        I hear you with the keep women unknowlegable and obedient comment.
        I teach classes that happen to have a lot of young women from China. They will either skip class or are found curled up in corners during their periods. When I suggest a pain relievers or birth control as a way to manage their cycles and pain, they act like I’m insane to suggest it! “We don’t do that in China!!”, is always their answer. It drives me nuts that they won’t take control of their bodies and pain so they can succeed. How are they going to keep jobs if they need a few days off every month!!!!

  3. Yeahright says:

    American doctors aren’t allowed to steralize someone that young.
    I get why but it can be super frustrating.
    I wanted kids up until I hit 33 and then the desire just went away.
    I am super thankful because while I feel like I would have been a good parent because you just have to be, my desire to parent wouldn’t have been there.

    • Hikaru says:

      They give puberty blockers and synthetic testosterone to girls much younger than that tho and it’s perfectly legal.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        That is not to sterilize but to treat precocious puberty,an endocrine disorder. Girls treated this way can and do go on to menstruation after treatment ends, and have babies too.

      • Nicole Savannah, GA says:

        Absolutely. You are 100% correct. My fiance’s cousin started her period at 8. Enter Lupron, the same medicine I am on. She is now 12 and on her period and progressing perfectly.

  4. Beth says:

    I didn’t know for years that I had endometriosis, so every month I thought those crippling, killer cramps that made scream and cry like bloody murder, were normal

    • milla says:

      I have it as well and im afraid what will happen if i do decide to have a kid.

      • Babs says:

        I have it as well but finally managed to get pregnant at 34. I wish you the best of luck. And now that my son is born and my periods came back, the pain is gone. Totally gone. It’s almost weird, like something is missing, this is not real periods. But yes it’s real. I don’t know how long it will last but I enjoy every minute of it.

      • Christine says:

        Same as Babs. I was told at 24, because of my endometriosis I would not likely have children. I also had crippling cramps. I did get pregnant at 27 and the painful periods are gone. Totally gone. I don’t even know when I’ve started my period. Best of luck to you. It can get better.

      • Somegirl says:

        Similar experience here. I have endometriosis and PCOS- miserable periods from age 12-30. I wasn’t diagnosed until 29, when I was unable to conceive, and I was told it was almost impossible I would ever get pregnant, and then I did. Almost lost the baby but ended up with a healthy son, and now my periods are sooooo much better. My fertility specialist said that sadly it’s not uncommon for women to go through that long without diagnosis, because doctors or parents often minimize female pain. My mom told me I was a baby and oversensitive. Umm, now that I have given birth (basically without pain meds, because of an injury that made the spinal block fail) I can tell you that my monthly experience was as painful as the whole point of labor up until the baby comes out!!

      • Ange says:

        I had a doctor when I was 19 who flippantly told me to have a kid so it would help my periods. I was all ‘nooooo… how about you just give me the birth control I want instead?’ I’m 37 and still don’t want kids. Ugh. When will medicine take women’s issues seriously?

  5. adastraperaspera says:

    I’m glad to hear her speaking out on this. It’s really amazing how the pain and health complications that come from menstruation are not surfaced at all in culture. Everyone acts like it doesn’t exist, which contributes to the overall invisibility of women. Back in the 70s, I remember spending much of Jr. High in the nurse’s office due to pain from what was much later diagnosed as endometriosis (my period had started at 9 years old). There was no concurrent counseling or help with the stigma I felt from this condition. Everyone just acted like it wasn’t happening. My friends didn’t even have their periods yet. I felt very ashamed about it all for years, which in retrospect seems so silly since it wasn’t anything I could control at all.

  6. Aims says:

    If there was ever an appropriate topic today for me. As I have gotten older, my cramps are extreme. They’re similar to low contractions. I also get intense headaches. I’m done having kids, so I wouldn’t mind getting a hysterectomy . I feel like I’m being held hostage every month, and my periods are longer and heavier .

    • Kitten says:

      Same here. They used to last 3 days, now it’s more like a week 🙁

    • RedOnTheHead says:

      Aims, I highly recommend it. Of course I realize that a hysterectomy is a very personal decision so I don’t mean to imply that it’s something one should do like getting a facial or something. I just think it’s not something to necessarily be frightened of.

      I had every female reproductive issue you can think of, except cancer. I went decades with horrible bleeding, cramps that incapacitated me, and so on. Even though I am childless by choice, I hesitated to get a hysterectomy and I can’t even say why. After my umpteenth surgery for either fibroids or endometriosis, I just woke up one day and said….that’s it. I had everything removed except my cervix. It was done via laparoscopic. No big incision, no after pain, short recovery.

      Best decision I ever made. I was in my late 40s when I had it done and based on family history I already expected to be in menopause shortly. So deliberately putting myself into menopause was, for me, not a big deal. I just wanted all of the pain and problems to be over!

      It will set you free.

      • CatJ says:

        Totally agree with Red. I didn’t get diagnosed with fibroids or endometriosis, but, the pain of periods became excruciating. Finally, a Gynecologist tried to insert a scope and couldn’t , and agreed it was time for a hysterectomy.
        I had it removed vaginally, minor discomfort, at age 37, and I agree it was the best decision I ever made. I never wanted to have children, and couldn’t justify why I needed to suffer every month until menopause.

        It is indeed freeing.

      • Betsy says:

        @CatJ – I’ve had my kids and a period free life with as bad as these cramps and digestive issues have gotten sounds GLORIOUS.

      • Wren says:

        A friend of mine had one recently as she’s basically been like “I feel great, this was the best decision I’ve ever made and my only regret is not making it sooner”. Of course it’s a serious and personal decision that must be considered carefully, but just throwing it out there. I don’t know what specific health issues she was dealing with, but she is happy with her choice.

    • Becks says:

      Same here, now that I’m older (41) my cramps have gotten worse and periods have gotten heavier. I don’t have children, but last month, my cramps were so bad, I thought this is what contractions must feel like. ☹

    • Candion says:

      I don’t comment often but your post is what I went through in my early 40’s. I had the worst periods couldn’t even get my son to school down the street without having to change my clothes. It got so bad I couldn’t function. I had a procedure called endometrial ablation and that saved my life. I still have all my parts just don’t have periods past 7 years. Best thing I ever did! Please look into the procedure.

  7. Kitten says:

    I have crippling cramps today, thankyouverymuch.

    I think when Jamie made that comment she meant to say that this is the societal message that women receive starting at a VERY young age, when we are playing with dolls (or in my case, stuffed animals).

    I have a soft spot for Jamie because of Heart of Dixie. I’m happy she spoke out about this.

  8. Astrid says:

    After struggling for many years with very painful menstrual cycles, it was a relief to have an easy transition to menopause.

  9. NicoleinSavannah,GA says:

    I was crushed when I had my partial hysterectomy in April at 33. It is absolutely heart wrenching to feel like I am some part of natural selection. I still have ovaries and PCOS, but after 8 years of multiple surgeries and constant cysts, fibroids, blood transfusions, heating pad burns, I had no choice. The pain is a little better, but not perfect. The recovery takes so long. No one talks about. They tell me to suck it up. That is so hard when you can’t even walk to the shower or brush your teeth because you are gagging the whole time and the fetal position is your best friend.

    • nicegirl says:

      Best wishes for a full and faster than what is happening recovery to you, NicoleinSavannahGA. I wish you to be pain free.

    • Betsy says:

      Does the morning sickness trick of running your hand under water while you brush help? Or is that part better now that your uterus is gone?

      • Nicole Savannah, GA says:

        Betty, I will try that. I would love to actually brush my teeth twice a day. Peeing is a nightmare. I smell lavender or peppermint oil to use the bathroom. Oh, to clarify, that is because I have no uterus. I guess.

    • magnoliarose says:

      @nicoleS I sincerely wish you healing and recovery so that you are able to be pain free soon. 💐

      • Nicole Savannah, GA says:

        Thank you, MagnoliaRose. I always look forward to your posts. You are a beautiful person. Thank you for saying to Kathleen what I could not. I had my lupron shot Tuesday so all of my estrogen is being released and my oldest and closest friend has been admitted twice to the ER for schyzophrenia. I have had to do it and yesterday my fiance had to do it. She is getting a divorce so she will release no info to her next of kin. The situation is dire. I know we have to be strong, but breaking feels so much easier. Kathleen, you can bring influence. Please do. No pressure. All love and hugs and every damn tear we have shed.

      • magnoliarose says:

        Thank you NicoleSGA

        Your poor friend. What caused her decompensation? I have always thought schizophrenia must be one of the hardest mental illnesses to manage and treat. It has to be exhausting to try to find balance every day and deal with stress like a divorce. Hopefully, she receives the care she needs and can recover from this episode.
        Infertility seems more prevalent now or has it always been there but never talked about? This is such a huge medical and emotional issue that needs attention desperately.
        How many serious large scale research programs are there in the world? There can’t be many because there doesn’t seem to be enough attention on finding the cause early. Are there theories? This has to have a hard push into the forefront like breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
        It is tragic women are suffering and hurting alone. This isn’t acceptable.

        You are dealing with so much don’t forget to care about yourself. That is an order by the way. 🙂

      • Nicole Savannah, GA says:

        Schizophrenia is the hardest, I think. I say this because I grew up from 4 going to people’s houses that were sick and my father was a nurse that administered meds and I was basically the charm? After that at 10, he started a personal care home and at 11 we lived in that house. I grew up living with all types of people. My grandmother got CJD, it’s basically mad cow in humans. Got to thank that meat on a farm in Sandersville, GA! Alzheimer’s, AIDS, Cancer. You name it and I lived with them. They become your family.
        The woman with schizophrenia that I most remember had quite a difficult case, but by no means as bad as some. She had a trust fund and money talks. Her social worker became her power of attorney and she moved out. I was always worried about her and I still see her walking around places. I tear up because I am so thankful she’s still going. She smokes all day and talks to no one, but she has no financial worries. No tv, nothing. Barely showers. It is not a very good life, but it is what she wants. She was in and out of the institution around 12 times in 2 years.
        Now, I am so sorry. My emotions are everywhere. Infertility is barely studied. It makes me sick. Most doctors say ‘each vagina is different and it’s just too hard to figure these things out.’ There is barely any funding for women’s reproductive health including adenomyosis, PCOS, endometriosis. My tinfoil cap strongly believes the reproductive studies have been to make money in the final product. Hell, it’s true. I read many medical journals when I was an inpatient pharmacy technician. I am so sorry for this long rant.
        My friend called. I am not sure how she is getting to a phone, but she is calling so that is something. I will keep calling people/institutes to tell them I strongly advise they call me. She keeps talking to ‘him’, thinks phones are tapped, people are in bushes, she asked me why she was in the hospital, speak of chemical warfare and terrorism. She is malnourished and has bruises everywhere on her body. Her hair is falling out. I found her ‘food’. 5 hour energy shots, coffee, and protein drinks. I am broken.
        I won’t give up. I can’t. It’s funny and so true that you say I have to take care of myself. I wash my hair twice accidentally when I finally wash it so that may be good. My 2 friends and fiance all told me they see me falling apart. I just have to help. She has to do the hardest part. Accept this as life.
        I am so sorry if I didn’t answer all questions. I’m so distraught and I think I’m having some PTSD seeping its hands into my brain.

      • Nicole Savannah, GA says:

        In hindsight, the decompensation started a few years ago. She would come to my house. We tried to get her husband to come, but she always had an excuse. She felt safe here.
        Also, I can now pinpoint moments since we were around 4 or 5.

      • magnoliarose says:

        Your thoughts about the lack of options and understanding confirmed my suspicions. I wondered about the financial incentive behind limiting solutions to very expensive fertility treatments. It is prohibitive and exclusionary. That seems to be the case in areas of women’s healthcare that focuses exclusively our health concerns.
        Breast cancer research didn’t get serious attention until men became involved and decided that it was important. But insurance still doesn’t cover reconstructive surgery or counseling to help women cope with the aftermath. Men have decided we don’t need it therefore women who can’t afford it are punished because of financial inequality.

        Years ago I lost 2 aunts to breast cancer within a very short time. This was before there were routine mammograms and early detection was even a thing. Another aunt was diagnosed was in remission for years before it reemerged, and she lost her battle recently. It hit our family and her community particularly hard because she was one of those people that left the world a better place. She had an amazing life and a wonderful husband, but she had fertility problems. As an older sister she watched her younger sisters have children with no problems for years.
        Finally, she conceived but in the 8th month the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck causing a stillbirth. This too is an area that is under researched even though this happened 3 decades ago.
        After a few more years they adopted. When my they arrived back from Israel with my infant cousin you would have that a royal prince had arrived. She only conceived one more time during early menopause but it ended in miscarriage.

        My point is that with all the great things she had in life; a happy marriage, an important career that positively affected other people’s lives, exciting adventures, respect and security the area that brought her grief but was never discussed was her infertility. We were even very close. She was my rock and another one of my “Moms”. I got sick overseas once and I looked up and there she was! I didn’t even ask her to come. How she managed to get to me so fast is a mystery but that is how she was.
        Never once did she tell me anything about her experience. We talked at length about her cancer, politics, activism, religion, career, marriage, motherhood etc. but not that. Even though she knew how much I loved her she still never talked about it. She didn’t talk about it with anyone as far as we know. Recently, I learned the reason why might be related to her experience before marriage that led her to be a woman’s reproductive rights activist.

        The Serena Williams motherhood story caused a backlash and debate everywhere including here. We weren’ connecting to each other. We talk and debate and probably get mad each other over everything else, but we just seem oceans away on this issue.
        To my eternal shame in the past I joined the well you can always adopt chorus. Ugh. Cringe. What a way to shut down the conversation and as an extra bonus heap on some more shame and invalidation.

        Nicole, you don’t need to apologize for rambling (you weren’t). Sometimes we need a good therapeutic ramble. lol

        Your compassion for your friend is not the norm in our society especially when it pertains to people like her who are lost in the margins of life. Usually we gush about their plight in theory but still walk past them with plenty of pity to offer but not much else. Women’s mental health is yet another area where we are under served and because of it lives are devastated.

        I feel for you with the estrogen flood. That is rough. Your heart is in the right place with her and her plight is tragic but you are right there is only so much you can do. Easy to say hard to accept.
        Your fiance has it right. Look after yourself. Recovery and healing is really your number one job. 🙂


      • Nicole Savannah, GA says:

        I am so sorry about your aunts. Your mama/aunt sounds like an amazing human being. We don’t have many of those left in this world. I slept until noon! I have talked to my friend as well. Still waiting on a room somewhere, so all I can do is talk to her.
        I do 100% agree with you about ALL women’s health. We are treated like 2nd rate humans no matter our race or religion. From mental health to our bodies, we are pushed to the side until someone with a big wad of cash peeks another’s interest. It is heartbreaking and tiresome, but I fight for it as much as I can. I KNOW my recovery is number one, but man I seem to take on another person’s stress like a puppy pee pad.
        And if you would please contact me, you have no idea how much you have helped me this weekend. Betty jones 25 at the good old america online.

      • magnoliarose says:

        I will do NicoleG.
        I am sincerely glad I could help in some way.

  10. nicegirl says:

    In the later 1980’s, and early 1990’s, in our health classes in Northern California, with textbooks, we were taught that menstruation caused no pain and a person ‘could not tell’ when they were menstruating.

    A male teacher who taught one of my classes (in jr high, I was 13) said there was no cramping, no pain, and women who complained were usually unattractive. He said complaining or even mentioning that you were menstruating was rude to others, that no one wanted to hear about it. He said most women did not know they were menstruating until they felt something dripping or wet. He said people who were on their periods sometimes put off an odor. He joked, “Never trust an animal that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die.” I will never forget it. These were in co-ed classes. The only time we were separated into boy girl groups was the once in 5th grade, otherwise, we heard all of this crap together with the boys, who were also being taught that crapola.

    If your period was bad and you were in pain and told a PE teacher, counselor, nurse, you were not given any kind of break whatsoever – several times from Jr through HS I leaked through my clothing, in pain and deep shame. Other girls my age would help each other. If you did not perform well during PE class, a teacher might call out to you, loudly in front of the entire group, either asking/accusing you of ‘being on your period’ and being “lazy”. If you were sick and asked to leave class, a teacher might loudly comment that you were over-reacting, you might just be about to start your period, you’re in that age range . . .

    I think these discussions about menstruation, fertility, reproductive health are very important.

    • Lori says:

      Thats story is terrible, I’m glad we’ve mostly
      moved beyond that sort of teaching. Mostly.

    • Elisa the I. says:

      OMG , that sounds absolutely awful, I’m sorry that you had to experience this.

    • NicoleinSavannah,GA says:

      Absolutely. Those people were tyrannical pieces of shit. I remember from the 5th grade on, having a note every month for PE because of having to sit out. Blood used to get all over my bloomers for my cheer uniform and that would ruin a pep rally, ugh, people are SO stupid. So many females in school said I was not in pain, it was for attention. So much idiocy, I can NOT even talk any more right now without being in a rage.
      Thank you for sharing this story. You have no idea how much it is appreciated as it is appalling.

    • Bobafelty says:

      My high school did not allow you out of class for severe period pain. I have pcos and even passed out in class once from the pain, since I wasn’t allowed to even get up to go use the restroom. So once a month I started claiming a ‘migraine’ so I could go home and be on pain pills and rest. See, men also get migraines, so the school office had no issue letting people go home sick for that. Just can’t leave school for women only issues.

    • magnoliarose says:

      That is one of the worst examples of misogyny by a teacher I have ever heard. He abused you and the other girls in that class. The shaming and humiliating young girls like that is damaging, but I am sure he didn’t care.

      I am sorry I skipped this story yesterday. It is an important subject.

  11. Marigold says:

    See, I feel like we’re taught very young that extreme mentruation pain is entirely normal and not a sign of a possible ailment. Take your Advil, get a hot water bottle and move on. But extreme pain is not normal during menstruation. It’s a myth that’s been perpetuated for eons. Extreme mestrual pain is often a sign of a much greater problem. For me, I just accepted it until I couldn’t get pregnant and lo! I had pretty severe endo and had to use IVF for my second kid. It’s super hard to fully diagnose (as in, know how far and wide it goes in the body) and there really isn’t any solid treatment for it. God forbid something that effects millions upon millions of women get any medical attention or (gasp!) a cure.

    • the_blonde_one says:

      It’s both- we are taught that we, because we are weak and silly girls- FEEL like we are in extreme pain but in actuality, we are not and we should get over it because it’s all in our heads.

      lovely yes? (/s)

  12. huckle says:

    Maybe it’s because I’m from a different generation or something but nobody ever taught me that my period wouldn’t be painful. I can’t speak about reproductive illnesses or conditions, but everything either is or can be painful: periods, sex, childbirth. All that outside of being sick. I mean, pain isn’t crucial to the female identity, but it is most definitely part of it.

  13. littlemissnaughty says:

    Women’s health in general needs to be taken more seriously. I have heard the WORST stories of arrogant and dismissive gynos. I’ve never had any major issues, I deal with the 1-2 days of pain and move on so I’m lucky.

    There’s a funny video on yt I think from Buzzfeed where guys find out what it’s like to deal with pads etc. (it’s a little gross but that’s right up my alley). At the end of it one of them says something like “I think when women should be allowed to work from home when they are on their periods.” and I laughed so hard. If men had periods, they’d get extra vacation days, bowls of tampons on every desk, painkillers and birth control would be cheaper than gum.

  14. lala says:

    I have PCOS, it sucks. It was worse when i was first diagnosed at 19 but the symptoms for me have always sucked even now that I pretty much have a handle on it from diet and exercise (I have a mild case) But the hirsutism, ovulation pain, lack of regular cycles, difficulty losing weight..all shitty. Add to that the increased chances of various cancers… ugh.

  15. Kathleen says:

    I’ve never questioned that her comments about pregnancy being the “ultimate expression of womanhood” or whatever were anything OTHER than her talking about the way she felt when she struggled with infertility. I remember being really sad a few years ago that her comments appeared to be taken out of context.

    I’ve struggled with several reproductive health conditions that have made it near impossible for me to conceive. I’ve been trying for 6 years. I am 35 years old. After finally being cleared for a round of IVF including one canceled FET (I wasn’t capable of it before), I finally, after 6 years of trying, became pregnant this summer. Everything was going well and then, sadly, I began to bleed. A few weeks later, my baby’s heart slowed and then stopped. I had a DNC a few weeks ago and I’m now facing down another IVF treatment again. The truth is that infertility is crippling and terrible and it’s not just something that happens to “women of a certain age” because I’ve been dealing with this for YEARS. Infertility is also massively misunderstood, in part, because the conversation ( for better or worse) is dominated by older women who aren’t actually infertile but are just, to be honest, past their prime childbearing years. I support women’s right to not have children. I always have and always will. But as a woman who is truly in the infertile community and has now lost the only pregnancy I’ve ever had, I often feel alone, isolated and forgotten as feminists scream back and forth about pro-life and pro-choice issues and a woman’s right to not have children. I support those women in their rights but I often wonder if they truly see or support me. I’m grateful to have someone like Jaime out there saying these things. They are vital and important. Women who crave children but can’t have them are a forgotten population. We suffer in silence. We cry and no one sees. Our femininity is questioned daily and there are very few people there to defend us because the feminist movement hasn’t really gotten it’s act together enough to figure out how to support us. It’s very, very hard and difficult. Also, before anyone responds, “well why don’t you just adopt??” Don’t. We’ve tried adopting. It’s more complicated, expensive and difficult than the majority of people could ever imagine. Best wishes to Jaime and anyone else here going through this agony.

    • EnnuiAreTheChampions says:

      Kathleen, I’m so sorry for your loss, and for your years of struggles. I’ve been where you are and it’s indescribably painful. I wish you the best of luck with your upcoming IVF.

    • NicoleinSavannah,GA says:

      Thank you for this post. I am now bawling. Have you had the joys of Lupron? I guess having a god baby is the closest I will get because adoption we can’t afford. At least I LOVE animals?

      • Kathleen says:

        @Nicole, oh yes…I now all about Lupron and the “forced menopause.” My Doctor tries not to use it unless it’s absolutely necessary but, sadly, I needed it in order to do an FET because I kept ovulating. So I was on it for like 25 days straight. It made my hair fall out and generally made me feel like an absolute crazy woman. I am trying to get myself ready to do it all over again but it’s hard. Best of luck to you. I am so sorry for your pain and your sadness. I wish I could hug you and bring you comfort. It’s such a hard road. ::hugs:: to you

      • Nicole Savannah, GA says:

        No, Kathleen. We are in this together. So, big hugs for both of us. I have been on Lupron for 4 years straight. Nightmare. How anyone is still around is amazing.

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      I really hope things work out for you. Sending lots of hugs your way.

      I’m one of those women who don’t want kids and have to defend themselves over and over again. It’s annoying and sometimes insulting but it is not painful. I think that’s one of the reasons the feminist movement (as far as there is “one” movement) hasn’t been able to get there. It is easier for someone who’s a bit pissed off to “open up” than for someone who’s truly in pain and is suffering. It’s also easy to confront me, to debate me. It’s not easy at all when it’s not a debate about choice but a topic that involves, well, for lack of a better word, tragedy. There is shame attached to being infertile and that makes it hard. I think that’s the thing we need to tackel. I don’t EVER ask women about their baby plans etc. because you never know what they might be struggling with and it’s also none of my damn business. I hope that in general I have let my girlfriends know enough times that there is no topic they can’t talk to me about and that if anyone ever makes an insensitive, ignorant or dumb comment I will go for their kneecaps.

      It’s really difficult for someone who isn’t affected to start these conversations and I know it’s not fair to expect women like you to start them either but I don’t see another way. Which is why I agree that Jaime deserves all the respect for continuing to talk about it.

      • Kathleen says:

        @littemissnaughty, thank you so much for this comment. I really means a lot. I truly mean it when I say that I stand as an ally for any woman who does not want children. It ::is:: annoying, unfair and wrong that women who don’t want children are constantly told they are “selfish” or any other number of insults. I agree with you that the silence and stigma and, yes, shame that surrounds infertility is what stifles the dialogue for those of us that can’t conceive. The sad part is that I have personally found that it’s more painful when I do NOT talk about it. For years, I said basically nothing. Just suffered in silence. Now, I’m pretty open about it, in part, because I feel like it’s just unfair that people expect me to be quiet to keep them from feeling uncomfortable. I had to come back to work ONE DAY after my DNC because my work policy did not allow me to take bereavement (I asked and was ignored) and I don’t have enough sick days due to the IVF to take an extended leave. It was awful and unfair. But I also was pretty open that I had just miscarried because why should my employer get to feel comfortable when they are the ones who will not allow me any leave to grieve the loss of my pregnancy? It’s all just so messed up. Anyway, thank you for this. Truly.

    • Isobel says:

      Kathleen, I feel for you because my story is the same as yours. IVF and the joy and despair of one very brief pregnancy. I was made feel like shit by work because I needed to take extra time off due to a uterine infection after the DNC that ended my miscarriage.

      Those who haven’t been on IVF treatment don’t always understand the risks. I have PCOS and I ended up with ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome in my second IVF cycle. My ovaries produced 22 inch and a half follicles that resulted in only 9 eggs. I was in a lot of pain because my ovaries were so bloated. After the harvest, 5 litres of fluid leaked from the needle holes into my gut, causing my stomach to bloat , my blood begin to thicken and a requirement for bed rest in case my ovaries twisted. I chose not to risk another round of treatment after that.

      It was even harder when I met and married my now husband. He knew of my past, knew of my infertility and was fine with what ever happened was fate. The constant pressure from my mother in law nearly broke me. ” can’t you have a surrogate, why don’t you adopt….”

      I am infertile . I am still a woman even though I can’t bear a child. All I would ask is that others respect the right of other women to bear or not bear children and treat that choice with dignity.

    • magnoliarose says:

      Kathleen *hugs*
      Your post should be an article for a feminist blog or magazine. You are right. The debate hasn’t included women struggling with infertility when that is most likely one of the most devastating things a woman will ever experience in her life. We need to learn how to support our hurting women and bring this issue out from the shadows. Since we don’t talk about it there isn’t even an understanding how to help and what is the right thing to do or say that doesn’t hurt you.
      I am not trying to pressure you but your words are powerful in a way I have never read before about this subject. I will never know what you feel but I know the way things are isn’t acceptable. You shouldn’t have to be alone or ashamed. We need your voices and you should be heard.
      I am so very sorry for your loss.

      • Nicole Savannah, GA says:

        Magnolia. I agree. These words have brought me to my knees. Kathleen, if you read this please send your words out in to this world. I am betty jones 25 at america online if you ever need anything. Your post was an essay that needs to be in every damn discussion.

  16. Sarah says:

    I think this is a really important topic, in particular this: “We are told as women that our great value is to be able to carry life, to carry a child. If we’re fertile and abundant, we’re a worthy goddess.” Some people’s parts don’t work. Some people’s parts work just fine but they don’t want kids. I fall into the latter camp. I was crushed when I got pregnant – like my body had failed me. My OB didn’t understand – she thought I was depressed and sent me to a psychiatrist. Turns out, not depressed, I’m just a person who did not want to be pregnant. The more quickly we can do away with the sentiment that all women want babies (even those who say they don’t — they just don’t know it! (vomit)) and that it is women’s highest purpose, the better for us all.

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      I’m 33 and people still tell me “Oh you just wait.” Dude, I’m this close to my personal cut-off age for babies (which I only gave myself in case the unthinkable happens and I suddenly want a baby), it is not happening.

      I find it dangerous as hell to try and get people to tie their worth to anything they may have little to no control over, to unimportant sh*t like the size of one’s car, your weight, your looks, the type of job you have etc. And yet these are the things we are told to value above all else. Of course for women that’s babies. All of it is about control. I’m over it.

    • Candion says:

      Wow I haven’t heard (read) any thing so close to home. I never wanted to be pregnant or have children. All my friends in school even knew this. I’ve always felt inadequate because I didn’t want children. When I was married I got pregnant and for a week didn’t know what to do. I felt trapped. I wanted to have an abortion but how was I going to when I was married and the insurance insisted my husband know? I ended up having my son and then my husband left me for another woman. I became a single mom and everything I never wanted to be. I really wish there was more discussion about our bodies especially in the 90’s and someone I could have turned to for help. I did the best I could with him but always feel like I failed.

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        ALL the hugs for you as well. This is why it needs to be the woman’s choice and why men can politely make their wishes known (in a supportive way) but then need to back off. Because it’s usually not women who take off and leave countless single dads, let’s be real.

        And you didn’t fail. You stayed and raised your child.

  17. Amelie says:

    I don’t believe I have endometriosis or PCOS but I had painful periods from middle school until my early twenties when I finally went on the pill. The first two days of my periods I had gut wrenching, nausea inducing, climbing up the walls pain at the beginning of my period that left me crying and moaning in the fetal position, shutting myself in a dark room to let it pass. Ibuprofen helped dull the pain but I could still feel my insides writhing twisting into a vise. Going on the pill was a total game changer for me, I barely get any cramps at all now and it’s amazing. Sometimes in between periods I’ll get random cramping episodes but those usually only last a few seconds rather than the hours long saga I used to have to deal with.

    I never thought menstruation was supposed to be pain free though. My mom had bad cramps growing up and I totally inherited that from her. Her cramps ended once she got pregnant with me (and she had no fertility issues, she said she got pregnant at the drop of a hat, pregnancy was easy for her and she was only in labor for six hours with me and less than four hours with my sister). So while I don’t understand what it’s like dealing with fertility issues, I understand what it’s like to have your uterus in pain.

    • Ankhel says:

      Your story is mine in every aspect. I still remember how bittersweet it was to suddenly lose 90% of the pain when I went on the pill. On the one hand, hallelujah! No more losing classes, no more lying on the floor, sleepless. On the other hand, why hadn’t we been told about the pill vs. cramps? Eight years of monthly fuckery, all unnecessary!

      Oh, and far shorter periods too. *Whistles*

    • Wren says:

      That was me as a teenager. I actually gave myself an ulcer from taking too much Advil because I didn’t know you could go to a doctor and get something stronger if you needed it. Thank you, “just suck it up and deal” mentality! When I went on the pill that all changed, and I could live my life instead of being curled up in the fetal position because even stretching my legs out was more pain that I could handle. Nowadays I’m not on BC anymore but the excruciating cramps have not returned. I think that’s because I try to eat healthy and avoid processed and crap foods.

      • Somegirl says:

        When my cousin went on the pill for period pain, my mother told me that was a lying excuse made up by my aunt for the fact that her daughter must be sleeping around. She told me all through my teenage years I was being a baby about my period. Then when we found out 17 years after they started that I have endometriosis and PCOS, my mother tried to claim that she always thought my periods seemed especially bad 😡😡😡

    • The Other Katherine says:

      When you have that level of pain during periods, it’s usually endometriosis, especially if hormonal birth control fixes it. The only way to diagnose endo for certain is laparoscopy, which is usually only worth doing if you are having severe pain and need a non-hormonal approach to address it (laparascopic treatment of endo is not as useful for fixing infertility as surgeons often like to imply, as endo frequently damages the cilia in the Fallopian tubes so that they can’t transport eggs even after being unblocked); but the severe menstrual pain that is relieved by hormonal BC is a very strong indicator. Also, if the menstrual pain doesn’t return when you come off hormonal BC after several years of taking it, it doesn’t mean that the endo lesions are necessarily gone.

      It’s worth knowing, because endo is a common cause of infertility; sufferers may need assistance conceiving if they want children, and the effectiveness of fertility medicine declines significantly as you move through your 30s and beyond. I had terrible menstrual pain in the years before going on hormonal BC as a teen, and then in my 30s spent years doing timed intercourse trying to conceive until finally doing several rounds of hail-Mary IVF at 40. I was very lucky, and I now have a child from IVF #4 (after a miscarriage on IVF #3). But if I had known at 32 how likely it was that I had blocked / nonfunctioning Fallopian tubes from endo, and how poor my chances of success would be with IVF at 40, I would have gone straight to IVF at 35 or sooner.

      Not trying to be alarmist, or imply that everyone with severely painful periods needs to worry if they don’t have a child by 30; just want ladies with endo symptoms to be aware that, if they do want kids, they may need to leave themselves a little more runway than they might plan on otherwise. Sending best wishes to everyone for pain-free menstruation and supportive family, friends, co-workers, and medical professionals!

  18. Elisa the I. says:

    I’m glad she is speaking up on this as the majority of women I know are in pain during their menstruation. A friend of mine once said it feels like someone is stabbing her with a knife. 🙁
    I don’t have such severe pain, but still take painkillers (Ibuprofen) for 2-3 days. Actually what has bothered me the most over the years is not the pain but my menstruation lasting up to 8 days. And for years my cycles were only 21 days. Now they are at 25 days, so things are a bit better. I also have to take meds to fight low iron levels, if I don’t take them regularly, I get incredibly tired.

  19. Michelle says:

    Does anyone know if PCOS or endometriosis is hereditary? I do not have either one of those fortunately, but my mom got a hysterectomy at 33 because she had such bad periods. I don’t know what he medical issues were at that time. I have never had any issues at all with my periods. No bad cramps, headaches, nausea, or anything so when I do, I keep my mouth shut because there are just so many women out there suffering. My concern is whether or not my daughter could develop it and what signs she needs to look for. Everyone should be educated about this.

    • NicoleinSavannah,GA says:

      Yes, it can be hereditary. Also, some people have endo and never even know.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      I wasn’t diagnosed till my late 40s and am pretty sure my mother had at least a mild case given her description of painful periods. She did have 3 successful pregnancies.

  20. clulu says:

    for everyone here suffering from menstrual problems, try 2 things that really help me. google red raspberry leaf, the tea or maybe the oil, it can really help, also google the “period pill”. this is a link i found of a woman who says red raspberry leaf tea cured her period pain.


    also try organic apple cider vinegar, i use braggs. i take it everyday, 2 cups a day. my recipe is 2 tbsp. in a cup of room temp water, w/ 1/4 tsp. of baking soda . i take 4 cups when i have my period and it has reduced the amount from 7 days to about 4…

    • Elisa the I. says:

      thanks for the tip, clulu! I will try the one with the vinegar and baking soda, hope it works!

  21. Norma Warner says:

    My sisters suffered from horrible menstruation at a young age. I, the eldest, was somehow spared. This a very real issue.

  22. sabaka says:

    It is so important to see someone talking freely about such a taboo. It is also relieving to see someone who can express so well the things you are going through and can’t really talk about because people will think you are over exagerating.

    I have been diagnosed with deep endometriosis stage IV a few months ago after suffering for years. It took Easter week-end and me crying of pain with no drugs working to relieve my pain and me passing out in the toilets in the middle of the night to realize that it is not right to suffer this much during menstruation. My doctor didn’t believe I had endometriosis because I didn’t “have the symptoms”. The MRI confirmed the diagnosis and I had waited too long. It damaged not only my uterus and my ovaries (my right one is stuck to my left one, it is romantically called “kissing ovaries” the irony) but also my bladder, my vagina and my intestine.

    I went to see a professor who put me on chemical menopause (I’m 30) to try to avoid surgery (surgery lessens even more your chances to have children). The side effects are hard to take and I feel quite alone because I can’t talk about this around me but at least I feel lucky to have access to medical care (and mostly free since I live in France).

    It is really important to make women and especially youg girls realize that no, it is normal to suffer during menstruation, it will help some of them being diagnosed earlier. Like my echographist said “why suffer when you can be treated?”

    • Nicole Savannah, GA says:

      Are you on Lupron too?

      • sabaka says:

        In France it is called Lutenyl.I understood the Lupron is an injection… Lutenyl is a pill that you take normally during the two last weeks of your cycle but for my part I take it every morning without interruption.
        I still have cramps from time to time, especially around the supposed time of my period but I think that as long as I can walk it is bearable.
        From what I read, the side effects for Lupron and Lutenyl are the same: weight gain, hot flashes, low libido, depression, mood swings, phlebitis…
        It is reassuring but also sad at the same time to see so many women impacted by this illness…

  23. TeamAwesome says:

    The kicker on all of this is that so much is still not known about the how and why and what actually happens to cause these problems. I have always had killer periods. I never know when they will decide to show up, sometimes a 40 day cycle, sometimes 90. I told my doctor I’d like to figure out why in case I want kids. She did a bunch of tests, said oh, no idea why. I could put you on birth control but that won’t help you get pregnant. I hate being on birth control. It makes me feel crazy and nauseous. If men had a common problem like this it would have already been solved.

    • Nicole Savannah, GA says:

      You are so right. We can’t just tell the disease to leave even though you can’t see it! I also have deep stage 4. It is so horrible what it does to our minds and bodies. And I thoroughly agree if my male obgyn had this issue, there would be a plethora of treatment options instead of saying you can ‘cure’ this by getting pregnant. Well, asshole, some of us can’t do that.
      I feel like a guinea pig for male and female jerks since the age of 12.
      2 people have committed suicide from endo this year that i have read about, but I believe there are more

    • Achoo! says:

      There are thousands of female doctors and scientists out there who are probably working on the problem as we type, it just might be like cancer there is no magic bullet. No good blaming mens lack of interest on this one, they still haven’t solved the prostate cancer problem and breast cancer awarness and funding is through the roof and they still haven’t found a cure.

      I had the luck of the gene pool on this one , only minor cramps with periods and very little trouble with menopause other than a few short lived hot flushes a day for a couple of years. It may be simple genetics but finding a common gene to switch off or on may not be possible or desirable.