Tia Mowry-Hardict: No one should have cramps so bad they need an ambulance


Actress Tia Mowry-Hardict is mother to two beautiful children, Cree, seven and Cairo, five months. A month after having Cairo, Tia spoke about the unrealistic expectations of her post-partum body. Now she’s opening up about another topic, one that needs more attention: endometriosis. Tia wrote an essay about her struggles with endometriosis that include the excruciating pain, extensive treatments and fertility issues. But Tia is also speaking out because, as she points out, the issues is not addressed or researched enough in the African American community. You can read the unedited essay here.

I never thought I would have infertility issues. No one around me, including my mother and family members, had ever talked about having trouble getting pregnant; it was never something that crossed my mind. So about 15 years ago, when I was in my mid-20s and had been dating my then-boyfriend, now husband, for some years, the natural next step was to talk about marriage. Although we weren’t immediately ready to start trying to have a baby, we knew we wanted kids at some point.
And then I was diagnosed with endometriosis.

The diagnosis wasn’t the first time I realized something might be wrong. I’d been experiencing extreme pelvic pain for years and went to several doctors. Each one would brush me off. “Those are just really bad cramps, some women get them more severely,” one told me. “Just put heat on it,” one suggested. Another doctor simply said: “Get on the treadmill—working out helps.”

No one should ever have cramps so bad that they’re ready to call an ambulance. I once found myself crying in the back of my car, and my sister Tamera had to drive me home because I was in too much pain to drive.

Finally, in my late 20s, I ended up going to an incredible African American doctor who immediately knew what I had. She explained that endometriosis occurs when the tissue that belongs inside your uterus grows on the outside instead. It’s very painful, and many African American women are often misdiagnosed because there’s been less research done on the prevalence of endometriosis in our community.

I thought I was alone because no one I knew personally had dealt with this. And then I realized: I’d never really seen someone African American in the public eye talking about endometriosis or their struggles with infertility. And when you don’t know or see anyone else who looks like you talking about what you’re going through, you feel alone and suffer in silence.

I also want to raise awareness. As Black women, we’re particularly at risk for endometriosis, yet so many of us don’t even know what this condition is. If more of us talked about it, more women might say: “Hey, I’ve had those symptoms, let me go get checked.”

[From Women’s Health]

Tia said in the essay that going public with this was really hard for her. She worried about backlash and people accusing her of making it up. That’s another downside of an issue not being discussed openly. I still don’t know much about endometriosis. I’d not heard of it until Lena Dunham started talking about it. And this is where celebrities like Tia really do the good work. I had debilitating cramps as a young woman. I had to keep a bowl by me on the couch because the pain caused me to vomit but it also prevented me from being able to walk. I don’t think I had endometriosis because the pill alleviated the bulk of the pain and I had no fertility issues. My daughter is already in need of a heating pad for her cramps. Before, I might have told her it’s just girl trouble like I was told, but now that I’m hearing these discussions, I will absolutely press her doctor about it.

I’m glad Tia is speaking up for her community. It’s tragic to read, “many African American women are often misdiagnosed because there’s been less research done on the prevalence of endometriosis in our community.” She discusses her treatments in more detail in the essay, about changing her diet and needing multiple surgeries. I hope endometriosis continues to stay in the spotlight and no longer written off as something women should just expect to endure because that’s their lot in life. No one should have to call an ambulance for a naturally occurring condition and certainly no one should have to feel alone in discussing it.

View this post on Instagram

We chillin 💕 #morning

A post shared by tiamowry (@tiamowry) on

Photo credit: Avalon and Instagram

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

34 Responses to “Tia Mowry-Hardict: No one should have cramps so bad they need an ambulance”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. OriginalLala says:

    problems with our reproductive health are so often minimized and go un-treated for too long. I recently lost a friend to cervical cancer because no one was taking her constant bleeding seriously.

    • NicoleinSavannah says:

      This fight within my body is exhausting mentally and physically. I feel better after surgery, now to find a job. I hope I can fit in my pants without feeling like I’m dying. She’s lucky to have gotten pregnant to suppress the symptoms at least for a while. I think the most hurtful ‘joke’ I’ve gotten is you should be just fine for government assistance after 9 surgeries. NOPE.

  2. Mel M says:

    I was finally diagnosised after my first miscarriage. I had trouble getting pregnant and did IVF with my first two, my twins were natural but I believe it’s because when you’re pregnant your endo is somewhat “cured” because you have all these months without it. My endo symptoms started coming back after my twins were about 18mo and I think it’s because it was the longest time I hadn’t been pregnant since before my first. Now I’m back to the full blown endo crap every month. When I was pregnant with my first I had a male doctor tell me that every women has some form of endo so my symptoms and diagnosis aren’t a big deal and don’t mean much. I left that practice pretty quickly.

    • NicoleinSavannah says:

      Bless you and your family. I’m so sorry the symptoms made their way back. We really tried and got nuthin so last year was uterus removal.
      Even women telling me how I should get treated drives me nuts. Our stages are different!

      • TheRealLVP says:

        Long time reader, first time commenter. I’m having a hysterectomy on December 18th. The doctor, who delivered my younger son, has said that he will determine exactly what to remove once he gets a look. The ultrasound showed fibroids; with a least 2 cysts on my left ovary. They couldn’t find the right ovary. I’m super nervous about it, but I’m hoping to get some relief.

      • NicoleinSavannah says:

        Bettyjones25@aol.com. if you need some talking and comfort. Hecate, may I give her this info if she needs to reach out?
        This last surgery I just had, they couldn’t find my ovaries through ultrasound.

  3. Marigold says:

    “I don’t think I had endometriosis because the pill alleviated the bulk of the pain and I had no fertility issues.”

    Don’t count it out based on that. The pill can (though does not always) reduce endo symptoms. The pill is often used as a treatment. It worked for me for for over a decade. I got pregnant with no problem with my first child. Needed 2 years and IVF for my second. Most women with endo do eventually get pregnant with no intervention as surgery for endo doesn’t actually increase pregnancy odds much more than just trying longer. My endo symptoms didn’t even appear until after I’d had a baby. I’ve since had 2 surgeries to remove endo lesions.

    • The Other Katherine says:

      Hecate, this is exactly what I was coming here to say. Birth control pills alleviating the period pain actually is a strong indicator that endometriosis is the underlying cause. Getting on and staying on birth control pills can also help limit the growth of endometriosis lesions and the damage that they do.

      I had severe period pain as a young woman before getting on and staying on hormonal birth control pills, but for me the damage was already done by then and I had to have IVF after years of trying to conceive unsuccessfully. I was fortunate that when I came off birth control in order to try to conceive, my endo pain was far less severe than when I was younger. My period pain has basically disappeared post-pregnancy, which sounds like it might have happened for you too (not everyone is so lucky).

      Endometriosis.org is an excellent place to find information and resources. Wishing you all success in advocating for your daughter so that she will not suffer like you did.

  4. lucy2 says:

    A friend of mine suffered terribly from this and ended up having to have a hysterectomy in her 30s. I had terrible cramps as a teenager, but it’s only rarely now. I can’t imagine how awful this must be.
    I’m glad Tia is comfortable to speak about it, and that she was able to have the children she wanted.

  5. pinkhydra says:

    My sister has been diagnosed with endometriosis and have seen her with her eyes swollen shut from crying from the pain. On July 31st I was a victim of a sexual assault, I went to a guy’s house I had just started dated and he put large doses of Ambien and Klonopin in my drinks. I woke up outside and instantly drove myself to the police station that called an ambulance. I was treated with every medication for all STDs including PlanB and I reacted horribly to the meds. The cramping was so bad one day I actually was going to call an ambulance, but felt embarrassed that I would have to tell the 911 operator I was having severe menstral cramps and there was no way I could drive. I suffered until the massive dose of ibuprofen I took kicked in and I could drive myself to the ER. I completely understand the feeling of feeling the embarrassment of having abnormal pain for something women are typically taught just to “deal with”.

  6. Amaria says:

    Speaking as a woman who works in healthcare and has endometriosis – I know it is painful all too well, but calling an ambulance because of cramps – which is there TO SAVE LIVES – is selfish and wrong. Go to your GP, local clinic, or visit the night general practice clinic if it’s very late (in Poland we have those), but don’t call an ambulance when a person with a cardiac arrest or a stroke might need it. Those patients who call ambulances for their every ache, cramp or a broken finger are the worst.

    • NicoleinSavannah says:

      Agree with you 10000+%. I have told people far too many times that the ER and ambulances are NOT for this. NO ER unless it is life threatening. I worked as a pharmacy tech in a hospital and even with all my medical issues, absolutely agree.

      • jwoolman says:

        The problem is that a patient may not be able to tell if it’s life-threatening. Extreme pain is not normal and could mean a deadly condition that has to be addressed right away or else you might very well die.

        This is why doctors here urge people who might be having symptoms of a heart attack to call an ambulance and to never try to drive themselves. They don’t even want someone else to drive you, since you might need the equipment and experience of the ambulance crew. Of course, an ambulance ride might cost you $1000 here, which is the real reason most people avoid them…

    • pinkhydra says:

      You obviously did not read close enough to these posts. Women are saying the pain was so excruciating they COULD NOT DRIVE. Would you be happier if we did drive got into an accident and seriously injured ourselves or an innocent person on the road? No one calls an ambulance for a broken finger; you’re ridiculous

      • NicoleinSavannah says:

        Absolutely NOT. If the ambulance is the ONLY way and their isn’t one human that can’t drive you, go. I just have experience of ER docs also NOT giving a damn about these issues.
        I’ve just lied on the ground sobbing or crawling. Stage 4 here. I get it. And, I didn’t see the response for the broken finger. Are you talking to me or Amaria? Currently on a heating pad now and still feeling sick from a procedure yesterday for the wonders of this disease. Sucks, but it’s life.

      • GreenBunny says:

        My father is an ER doctor and I worked in an ER for several years. Yes, people do call ambulances for broken fingers. People assume that if they come by ambulance they will be seen faster because, ambulance. But you are still triaged just the same, and non emergent cases go after real emergent ones. I’ve seen people call an ambulance for banging their hand. Some have used the ambulance as a taxi because they didn’t have money for an actual one. As soon as the EMT’s arrived, they hopped off the litter and walked out the door. I’m not sure how billing works if you receive Medicaid, so not sure if some people get bills and that’s why the use an ambulance like a taxi. But some people assume insurance handles the cost so it’s “free”. I’ve seen people use the ER as a personal physician like bringing their kids in for sports physicals or when you see the commercials that state “talk to your doctor about a free sample of viagra” men come in to the ER to get the doc to give them the free sample. I’ve seen people come in in the middle of the night with an ingrown toenail because they thought it would be less busy. So yeah, people do crazy things

      • NicoleinSavannah says:

        Oh, banana bags.

      • Amaria says:

        People actually call ambulances for far less than a broken finger. And if you know your pain is caused by your chronic condition, there’s even less reason to call. People go to ER with things completely unsuitable (like showing up at 3 a.m. in ER because they forgot how to take their chronic meds – which is something only their GP actually knows), wasting time and public money. If you can’t drive to a GP, take a taxi or get some help from friends. But leave emergency services for those in the greatest need. One day you might have a heart attack, go into a premature labor or have another life-threatening situation and that ambulance you need will be too far because of some lady with cramps.

    • Beth says:

      She didn’t actually go in the ambulance, and at that time, she didn’t know her problem was endometriosis. When I worked in the ER as an EMT, people who called for the ambulance because their pain was so bad usually had problems like appendicitis, and it’s safer to ride in the ambulance if you don’t have someone to drive you in a car. Dangerous to drive yourself if you’re in terrible pain. I never ever saw anyone take the ambulance for something like a broken finger

  7. Zapp Brannigan says:

    I would recommend everyone reading an article in The Week called the ” Female price of male pleasure” https://theweek.com/articles/749978/female-price-male-pleasure

    “a man can walk out of his doctor’s office with a prescription for Viagra based on little but a self-report, but it still takes a woman, on average, 9.28 years of suffering to be diagnosed with endometriosis”

    “How the scientific community has treated female dyspareunia — the severe physical pain some women experience during sex — vs. erectile dysfunction (which, while lamentable, is not painful)? PubMed has 393 clinical trials studying dyspareunia. Vaginismus? 10. Vulvodynia? 43.
    Erectile dysfunction? 1,954.
    That’s right: PubMed has almost five times as many clinical trials on male sexual pleasure as it has on female sexual pain”

    Well worth a read.

  8. HK9 says:

    Doctors brush it off because they don’t know how to treat it and they don’t want to admit it. They would rather lie and say it’s all in your head instead of doing the investigative work. I’m glad my doctor took my concerns seriously.

    • NicoleinSavannah says:

      This disease making you neurotic is an evil trick. It’s like we have to have surgery and excision to validate our actual pain.

      • pinkhydra says:

        @ NicoleinSavannah I was directing my comment to Amaria. I was also going to point out patients coming in via ambulance are still triaged but just figured cut it short; she is giving dangerous advice to not go into the ER when a person is in severe pain and who could very well not know what the pain is coming from or what is happening. Better safe, with a large ambulance bill, than sorry.

      • NicoleinSavannah says:

        Thanks for clarifying. I hate being a devil’s advocate in a situation like that. I agree safe than sorry. The reason I don’t understand some people is because I was raised in a personal care home and did most of the work with mom while dad worked in the ER and GI. Talk about some stigmas!
        It’s easy to forget some people know no better and it sucks that there are some that don’t just call the pharmacist.

  9. Beth says:

    It was absolute torture for years of being misdiagnosed. Since it was a doctor that was telling me that the cramps that left me in tears, unable to stand straight, lie flat, and hurt like an ice pick stabbing my gut, I believed her when she said they were regular menstrual cramps. I’d never heard of endometriosis, and figured the doctor would know if something was wrong. Thank goodness it was finally discovered and removed, and since I was definitely unable to get pregnant, I had my uterus cauterized, because if I can’t get pregnant, I don’t want to have my period.

    • jwoolman says:

      Remember that they are not all at the top of their class…

      Also there are few physicians who act like Marcus Welby, Dr. House, or any other tv doctors who thoroughly investigate the cause of everything they don’t understand already. They are mostly lucky to have five minutes to talk with a patient and many of them are not that curious. I taught pre-meds and it explained a lot about my experiences with doctors. Most had blinders on by the age of 18.

      So if you get a good doctor, hang on for dear life.

  10. Chaine says:

    I only knew of it because my mother had it, and even then, it was not something she talked about or explained. I just knew the word and that it had something to do with her periods and that she was constantly severely debilitated. It was only diagnosed when she was in the hospital for an entirely unrelated surgery and was immobilized, that the nurses that were caring for her realized that something was not right and put her on the path to a diagnosis. By that time she was probably around 40 and had dealt with it for decades. Luckily, it did not pass down to me.

  11. NotSoSocialButterfly says:

    The only two studies that I could find on the ncbi.nlm.nih.gov sites indicated that 1) black women have higher rates of infertility than white women, after adjustments for demographic and anatomical conditions. No conclusions were drawn as to why. 2) The only increased risk factors identified for endo in women across the board were issues of sociodemograhics, reproductive history and menstrual history.

    I sympathize with Tia’s ordeal and pain. My daughter was surgically diagnosed at age 15 after two years of increasing pain on a treatment algorithm that eventually failed her ( tylenol/heat-> NSAIDS ( motrin then aleve)-> oral contraceptives to suppress ovulation ). She was missing so much school. Our pediatrician submitted a gyro referral, and lo and behold- she had a dozen extra-uterine implants surgically ablated during a diagnostic laparoscopy, with some being untreatable due to location ( on the ureter, the tube traveling from the kidney to the bladder. Not every implant will be visible- some will remain occult lesions due to their location. She had a return of pain ( gradually) two years later, and had another lap. She has unpredictable and life altering- pain at times- it impairs work and college attendance when it’s at its worst.

    It’s a terrible condition to live with, and women need to be better listened to. Laparoscopies are the gold standard for diagnosis, and women also need more aggressive suppressive treatment and pain control. This isn’t normal, and no one should have to live with it.

    We found a device from Isreal called ” Livia”- it is basically a small TENS unit that clips on your pants. Electrodes are applied to the lower abdomen, and the painless electrical current through the skin does much to interrupt the pain signals to the nerves.

    I have great sympathy to all sufferers, and through our journey, I could share our experiences and maybe offer advice based on what our experiences have been. Everyone deserves proper care.

  12. Mo’ Comments Mo’ Problems says:

    Padma Lakshmi is very outspoken about her advocacy of this. She is affiliated with an organization to increase awareness and educate people about it. 🙂 It’s been helpful.