- Lara opens up about her endometriosis and her advice for women seeking diagnosis or treatment and how we all deserve care.
- She tells the heartwarming inspiration behind her new book, Vagina Problems: Endometriosis, Painful Sex, and Other Taboo Topics.
- She brings grace and humor to her journey, which she shares openly to inspire others living with chronic pain.
We sat down with Lara Parker, women’s health advocate, endo warrior, and Buzzfeed editor to discuss her new book, Vagina Problems: Endometriosis, Painful Sex, and Other Taboo Topics.
How are you feeling today? How have you, Pep and Android Man been doing the past few weeks?
I’m doing okay today! Today is officially my first day back to work after being out on medical leave recovering from surgery and it’s been very odd to be on this healing journey while everything is going on in the world. But I am grateful to have had this time to let my body heal. Pepper is LOVING that I am home more, and I am LOVING that Android Man is stuck here because of the virus. SO all in all, I can’t complain. I mean, I could. But I won’t. Not today anyway. :)
For those who might be unfamiliar, can you share what endometriosis is and what it feels like in the body?
Endometriosis is when tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus is found elsewhere in the body. It’s horrific and extra confusing because symptoms can vary from person to person. But my main symptoms have been a bloated/swollen stomach (“endo belly”), painful sex, nausea, pain after eating, pelvic pain in general, and painful periods.
Only ~4% of U.S. healthcare R&D today goes towards women’s health issues. Where do you see gaps as a result of this and what advice do you have for women seeking diagnosis and treatment for chronic conditions?
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE? Haha, just kidding, kind of. There are unfortunately so many gaps because of this, and it’s not just in treatment. It’s before that. It’s in medical studies and beyond. Medical professionals start out inherently knowing less about women’s health issues and the problems continue with the treatment of it because our pain is often dismissed or seen as something we shouldn’t complain about! As if. My advice for seeking treatment is to, if you are able, take an advocate to your appointments with you. It can be so, so hard to be the patient and also your own advocate. It’s a lot to ask. If you can have something there who can advocate on your behalf and ask for the care you deserve, it takes some of the pressure off yourself. Outside of that, I believe it’s 100% ok to let a doctor know when they are not giving you the care you deserve. I think we grow up thinking doctors have all the answers. Or maybe we hope they do. But they don’t. And that’s ok! But it doesn’t mean you aren’t experiencing real pain or real symptoms.
What inspired you to write Vagina Problems? (Who is it for and what do you hope people will get out of reading it?)
I wanted a book that 19-year-old Lara would have cherished. I wanted to write something that felt validating for anyone who is living through something similar to me. I wanted them to have an escape of sorts. A place that they could always come back to when they needed validation, or to feel more understood.
Fast forward to the future where Vagina Problems is a cult-favorite and best-seller, how do you hope it will change the conversation around these “taboo topics”?
I’m crossing my fingers like CRAZY! But that’s pretty much exactly what I hope — I just hope that it changes the conversation around this stuff, even if it’s a little bit. If it gives one person the courage to speak up about their pain and demand better care, it will be a success in my mind.
Anything else you hoped we would ask? :)
My favorite snack to enjoy during PMS? It’s scones. Scones are so underrated. They deserve more respect.