Research Seminars

Research seminars

“The bloodiness and horror of it”: Exploring metaphorical accounts of endometriosis pain

Stella Bullo (Manchester Metropolitan University)


This work explores the challenges of endometriosis pain communication and the conceptualisation of pain by women who suffer from the debilitating gynecological disease of endometriosis. Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women yet its worldwide average diagnosis length is 7.5 years. Among other manifestations, it causes severe pain in women. However, it is not infrequent to find health-care practitioners that dismiss and normalize pain as part of the female condition (Bullo, 2018). Studies also suggest that dismissal or normalisation leading to diagnosis delay may also happen as a result of miscommunication of symptoms, in particular, the way in which pain is communicated and explained during early consultations. Medical research advises that the endometriosis pain experience should assess not only the severity but also pain mechanisms (Morotti, et al., 2016). 

In this paper, I work with elicited and non-elicited data collected through interviews and online forum contributions to investigate metaphorical accounts of endometriosis pain by women. I compare the affordances of metaphors and similes to offer insights into how pain is conceptualised and communicated. The findings of the study have implications for endometriosis communication practices and will provide the basis for broader enquiries on the pain making sense experience and its communication.