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055: Lara Parker on Life with “Vagina Problems”

Uninvisible Pod

055: Lara Parker on Life with “Vagina Problems”

Lara Parker is a writer living in Los Angeles. She rose to popularity after publicly discussing her issues living with endometriosis and comorbid conditions, including vaginismus, vulvodynia, vulvar vestibulitis, PMDD,…
January 1, 2020
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055: Lara Parker on Life with “Vagina Problems”

Lara Parker is a writer living in Los Angeles. She rose to popularity after publicly discussing her issues living with endometriosis and comorbid conditions, including vaginismus, vulvodynia, vulvar vestibulitis, PMDD, pelvic floor dysfunction, and interstitial cystitis, among others. You may remember her from the short-form docuseries Can We Cure, in which she and fellow Buzzfeed producer Kelsey Darragh tried laser therapy in an attempt to treat their chronic pain (new flash: Lara still uses laser – in case you were wondering, like I was!). Here’s the thing about Lara: she is as real as they come. She sees and acknowledges her privilege, she is unapologetically self-possessed, and she’s mad as hell (listen in to find out why). Her first book, Vagina Problems – a collection of essays that discusses the effects of endometriosis and chronic pain on her life and relationships – comes out October 6th, 2020. 

Tune in as Lara tells us… 

– that she first started noticing abdominal bloating and pain when she was in 6th grade; but she didn’t take her conditions seriously until about 3 years ago 

– that she has been diagnosed with 10-12 different conditions 

– that she was diagnosed with endometriosis about 6 years ago – through laparoscopic surgery (which is invasive and cost-prohibitive) 

– that the surgery she had in order to diagnose her endometriosis made her pain worse 

– that she also lives with constant bladder urgency 

– that women’s health issues are constantly brushed off as not serious – and this puts women’s health at risk 

– that she has almost always had pain during penetrative sex and orgasm – and felt betrayed by her own body for years 

– that she has had to go from hating her body to showing it love 

– that she’s had to untangle not only physical trauma, but also emotional trauma 

– that her work in therapy is to reframe her experiences 

– that she’s become very forthright in communication because of her conditions – not only with sexual partners, but with others, as well 

– that she no longer blames her body for her experiences – and no longer makes apologies for what she needs 

– that she is grateful for her Spoonie support community, from whom she’s learned so much – and to whom she credits her increasing confidence 

– that writing became an outlet for her – because she didn’t know how to talk about her adverse health experiences 

– that she didn’t know what kind of support she needed…or how to ask for it 

– that despite the few good eggs out there, she doesn’t feel doctors are on her side – because historically, they haven’t been 

– that she has shifted the anger she used to have toward her body to anger she channels at the doctors who treated her negligently in the past 

– that unless you’ve experienced chronic pain, you cannot understand it 

– that endometriosis is a progressive disease – and for her, it’s gotten worse over time 

– that chronic pain is systemic – if it affects one area in your body, it can begin to affect others as you compensate in your behaviors 

– that chronic pain makes you work harder 

– the importance of an empathetic workplace 

– that most doctors really don’t know how to handle chronic illness, and tend to get frustrated when they can’t treat in their own specialty 

– that the most caring practitioners she’s encountered have been holistic practitioners – as opposed to traditionally-trained Western doctors 

– that she pursues an integrative approach in her treatment 

– that her great grandmother was institutionalized…and she wonders if she could have had similar symptoms that were simply misunderstood in her time 

– that she uses medical marijuana for pain management, as opposed to opioids 

– that a hysterectomy is not a cure for endometriosis 

– that endometriosis is consistently underplayed by the medical establishment and beyond 

– that the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis amounts to a public health crisis 

– that birth control was more of a hindrance than a help to her, but, as with opioid use – she can’t judge anyone for using these drugs, as needed 

– to remember that doctors work for you, and that you are the boss of your body 

– that she will always seek pleasure despite her pain, and will never give up sex and orgasms 

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