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Jessica Williams on How Severe Pain Led to Endometriosis Diagnosis



For 32-year-old actress Jessica Williams, “debilitating” pain, especially during her period, was actually signaling a serious health problem: endometriosis. Before she taped the HBO specials for her podcast, 2 Dope Queens, Williams said she had been admitted to the E.R. for the condition. “It turns out there wasn’t really much that could be done—because it’s women’s reproductive health, and they don’t know a lot about endometriosis,” the Fantastic Beasts star said in a recent interview with Essence. 

According to the Office on Women’s Health, endometriosis is a painful condition in which tissue that is similar to the tissue that lines the uterus (endometrium) grows on areas outside of the uterus, like on the fallopian tubes or ovaries. This tissue can then swell or bleed outside of the uterus during the menstrual cycle, which can result in severe pain because it cannot easily leave the body. 

In 2018, Williams spoke at length about her endometriosis in an Instagram post. She shared that “killer 👏🏾cramps 👏🏾ain’t 👏🏾normal👏🏾” and noted that she had to visit the E.R. and various medical professionals before finally arriving at a diagnosis. “People have a hard time believing women are in pain and they ESPECIALLY have a hard time believing that women of color are experiencing pain. So it may take multiple doctors to even get an endometriosis diagnosis,” Williams wrote.  

Finally receiving that diagnosis motivated her to “advocate for women of color monitoring their reproductive health,” according to Essence, a public health issue that Williams has been extremely vocal about. One systematic review published in the American Journal of Public Health analyzed 15 studies on implicit racial and ethnic biases among health care professionals and how this bias can impact health care outcomes. The overwhelming majority of the studies concluded that “most health care providers” included in the research appeared to have implicit bias, in that they tend to have more “positive attitudes” toward white people in a health care setting and more “negative attitudes” toward people of color. These biases, among other factors and systemic issues, can lead to a range of adverse health outcomes for Black people—from having their health concerns dismissed in potentially life-threatening situations to disproportionately higher maternal mortality rates.

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That’s one possible reason why Williams “felt relief” when a doctor finally acknowledged “you must be in a ton of pain” after discovering that she had advanced endometriosis lesions. “I also felt really sad for all of the pain that I had ignored and set aside for so long,” she previously wrote on Instagram. 


There are various treatments for endometriosis, which can include different types of medication or surgery to remove the endometriosis lesions. In late 2021, Williams told Interview magazine that she was recovering from endometriosis surgery but did not go into exact details about the operation. Now, she looks back at her initial symptoms and stresses the importance of listening to your body—and advocating for yourself if you can. “You shouldn’t be having severe period pain,” she told Essence. “That’s not normal.”


Source: Self

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