What is the nature of pain? How do we talk about pain and assess it seriously when the history of modern medicine is built on the transfer of authority from the patient’s subjective experiences to the physician’s objective diagnosis? This is not a broad, sweeping history. It’s a personal one. I am one of an estimated 200 million women worldwide whose body has experienced extreme pain and physical distress that has been routinely dismissed by physicians. It is only pain, I was repeatedly told, as the agony engulfed my life.
Thousands of years of women’s pain
Even in the 21st century, women with severe monthly pain find their suffering minimised or dismissed by the medical profession. Such pain is seen as simply a natural part of being female.
The pain that punished feminists
In a society that viewed getting the vote, and pursuing an education and career, as unnatural goals for women, the pain of endometriosis was viewed as nature’s retribution.
Getting the measure of pain
In the 20th century doctors tried to find a way to measure pain. But even when ‘objective’ measures were rejected, an accurate understanding of another’s pain remained frustratingly elusive.
Demanding a diagnosis for invisible pain
After dozens of hospital visits and handfuls of painkillers, a plethora of scans and tests bring diagnosis closer for Jaipreet Virdi.
The search for a cure for endometriosis
Discover how a white American doctor’s experimental operations on black female slaves laid the foundations for modern gynaecological surgery.