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Book Review: Vagina Problems: Endometriosis, Painful Sex, and Other Taboo Topics by Lara Parker

In this emotional tell-all, Lara Parker dives into what it’s really like to live with pelvic pain. Lara is a Deputy Director for Buzzfeed, the online news and entertainment website. In this industry, it’s important to keep a fast pace which is hard to maintain when living with chronic pain. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible to do anything when you are living with chronic pain. Lara describes in blunt and heartfelt detail all the daily struggles one can face with global pain, but especially pain that affects sexual function.

This book is an excellent gateway for people to understand what it would be like to live with chronic pain conditions. We often ask others to describe their pain but really can’t truly understand how they are feeling through words alone. Lara gets it, and is able to articulate what it feels like, which may be hard for many people in pain to describe. 

 

If you have been suffering from pain and think you could benefit from some validation knowing that other people understand what you are going through, this book is a definite must read. If however you are in a rough spot in your life, and loading other people’s stories of their trauma and pain would maybe cause you more harm than good, I would save this for another time.

For those without pain, this book presents an opportunity to grow in empathy and connect with those around you, especially ones that may be experiencing pain. I believe that it offers a chance for you to simply walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and realize that most of us really do want to give 100% of our effort, but that 100% is different for everyone.

 

Here are some of my favorite takeaways from the book:

 

“People still feel uncomfortable when I bring up my vagina. Viagra is still being easily covered by insurance while people sometimes have to lie and say the physical therapy they are getting for their vagina is actually for their back so that insurance will cover it, and we still don’t have anything close to an accessible treatment plan for any of it. Millions of people live with conditions similar to mine, but stigma, shame, and lack of awareness keep us all from talking about and normalizing it.”

“I do not believe in the idea that going through pain like this is something to be grateful for. That it somehow makes me a stronger person, or more empathetic. I am not grateful for my pain. But I am grateful for the person I have become in spite of it.”

“And in many ways, people who live with chronic pain are grieving. We are grieving for the lives we could’ve had, but don’t, because of pain.”

“Being mad at my own body for something it has no control over only succeeded in making everything hurt even more.”

 

This book is also great for understanding some of the benefits of pelvic floor physical therapy and opens a window for what pelvic floor PT looks like from the patient perspective. As a therapist, this was helpful for me to remember what it looks like from your eyes to come into my office. We are here for you and want you to feel well supported.

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