Closing the pain gap one story at a time. #painstories

#PAINSTORIES

From endometriosis, to adenomyosis, to painful sex, to vaginismus and beyond, our experience of pain is complex and still desperately underacknowledged. The more we share our #painstories, the more we dismantle the shame and silence that stops us getting the help we deserve. As part of Project V, we’re taking steps to lift the lid on women’s experiences of pain, to close the gender pain gap one story at a time.

176 million are affected by endometriosis worldwide. #painstories. Period pain can be as bad as having a heart attack. #painstories. Severe cramps has me go to A&E because I thought I was dying. #painstories

The Pain Gap

Pain for women has historically been sidelined, written off as normal and therefore accepted as part of being a woman. In fact, 51% of women and 52% of men agree that period pain is just something women have to deal with[1]. Women’s pain is all too often dismissed as a symptom of over-sensitivity, or hysteria. And it’s even harder to get a diagnosis if you’re a Black, Asian or mixed heritage woman[2]. Not to mention the host of stigmas and lack of understanding that stands in the way of trans and non binary people receiving adequate care for their pain. 

The consequences can be devastating – unconscious medical bias, a dearth of research, chronic misdiagnosis, a continued lack of funding and an ingrained culture of neglect, leaving women suffering undiagnosed and untreated for years. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Our pain is not normal. The more we share our #painstories, the more we give our pain the expression it deserves and demand to be taken seriously. Let our #painstories be heard.

79% admitted they hadn’t sought help from a doctor or healthcare professional, despite worrying symptoms. #painstories

What we're doing to help

The Pain Dictionary

Pain can’t be measured on an arbitrary 1-10 scale. We need new ways of expressing it. Our Pain Dictionary is a new language for pain, based off real endometriosis sufferers’ descriptions of how pain feels to them – from stomping goats, to tightening barbed wire.

The Pain Report

The Bodyform/Libresse Pain Report dives into women’s pain, the historical, cultural and societal taboos and silence that surrounds it. Our report uncovers these issues and shows how far we still have to go.

The Pain Museum

The world’s first Pain Museum to explore the Gender Pain Gap. The Pain Museum is an expressive journey of pain –– telling the #painstories that need to be told, exploring the taboos that fuel the silence around pain, and addressing how we can create a language to confront pain, to edge towards a world where this suffering is not something shrugged off as “normal”, simply to be endured.

Share your #painstories

Thank you to all the women who’ve shared their inspirational stories with us. If you’d like to become one, and contribute to the Pain Dictionary, we’d love to hear yours, too.

Our language

Ingrained gender bias stops women getting the treatment they deserve. But painful conditions – from endometriosis to vaginismus and beyond – also affect trans men and non-binary people, too. As does bias.

As a brand, we offer products for anyone who needs them, regardless of how they may identify. And when it comes to language, we are committed to being as inclusive as possible, but appreciate that there are many views that cannot currently be expressed by a common language and we may not get it right for everyone, all the time. We are learning every day.

We have kept our language as inclusive as possible. Some of the research we have quoted did not distinguish on the basis of gender identity and the use of the term ‘women’ throughout reflects this.

We’re committed to highlighting the experience of pain in an intersectional way and will continue to explore and share the stories of women, trans men and non-binary people.

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