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Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women's Pain

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,583 ratings  ·  311 reviews
For any woman who has experienced illness, chronic pain, or endometriosis comes an inspiring memoir advocating for recognition of women's health issues

In the fall of 2010, Abby Norman's strong dancer's body dropped forty pounds and gray hairs began to sprout from her temples. She was repeatedly hospitalized in excruciating pain, but the doctors insisted it was a urinary tr
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by Bold Type Books
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Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced ebook in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Abby Norman for your courageous voice in advocating women's health.

Ironically as I write this review, Nelly Furtado's version of Maneater is playing. A song that I feel my fellow Canuck turned into a powerful anthem for women.
In this non fiction/memoir Abby Norman launches the microscope and
takes look at women's health and the author's own personal struggle with endometriosis, Abby Norman explores just ho
~The Bookish Redhead~
I initially picked out this book, because it has the word "uterus" in the title. According to some of our society, people actually don't want to talk about uteruses, and it is apparently a taboo subject. For me, I fail to see how on Earth that is even remotely possible. When I began reading this book, I felt like I was listening to a friend, offloading her troubles, to a being that totally understands and more importantly, believes, in women's pain. Many, MANY Doctors and consultants however, do ...more
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was really looking forward to reading this, and now that I'm done with it, I can tell you my excitement was not displaced.

I very much enjoyed certain aspects of it, but also experienced feelings of indifference to it.

At certain times, my attention strayed. I would read several paragraphs before realizing I was not absorbing any of what I had just read. It was quite tedious and repetitive at times, but I believe, in a way, that is a small testament to how the author must have felt (and probabl
Cdn Reader (Inactive)
Rating: 2.5

At the beginning of her second year of college at Sarah Lawrence, Abby Norman experienced excruciating knife-sharp abdominal pain, which eventually took her to the hospital, caused her to withdraw from university, and led to surgery to remove a “chocolate cyst”, a type of ovarian cyst that forms when endometrial tissue (the membrane that lines the uterus) grows inside the ovary. Norman’s battle with endometriosis—with debilitating abdominal and pelvic pain, and eventually, with inexpl
"Even now, it's been so many years since I've lived in a pain-free body that I don't really remember what it feels like."

I'd accuse Abby Norman of plagiarizing me if I didn't wholeheartedly, bone-achingly, gut-wrenchingly, atom-pulsingly believe her. Even though this is a book about endometriosis, everyone should read this book. Norman recounts her own experience with endometriosis and the (seemingly innumerable) complexities related to endometriosis (spoiler: it is not a "menstrual" disease, it
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
Abby Norman tells her often harrowing story with grace in Ask Me About My Uterus. She’s had to make her way through life in pain, and mostly alone. I’m in awe of her courage and fortitude!

Norman spent her childhood with an absent father, and a functionally absent mother who was too sick with her own disease to care for her children. In case that wasn’t hard enough, her abusive grandmother stepped in to care for Abby. Somehow, she survives this and has the unimaginable presence of mind to request
My main issue with this book is that it is poorly written and/or edited. The chapters, and writing in general, are meandering and oftentimes baffling as to why certain writing choices were made. Too often, probably most of the time, the author seemed to want to introduce a story/topic but it was done in such a way that the proceeding content just felt like non sequiturs. In many ways it felt like listening to someone speak that took a million tangents and only sometimes completed their thoughts. ...more
Rhiannon Johnson
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
**In this post I review ASK ME ABOUT MY UTERUS and PERIODS GONE PUBLIC. Publishers have provided complementary copies to me in exchange for honest reviews** .
Let's talk about...uteruses/uteri! Yes, those are both acceptable plural forms of 'uterus'. Half the human population has one but *wow* are they controversial! However, regardless of where you stand on hot button issues like birth control and abortion, you probably agree that periods, albeit annoying, aren't very revolutionary. But you are
I liked this overall, but had a hard time reading it, and it wasn't what I was expecting.

Abby Norman dropped out of college due to debilitating pain she started experiencing one day, and which doctors minimized for years before she finally was semi-diagnosed with Endometriosis (among other things). The title and synopsis of this book makes it seem like more of a book about the relationship between women and doctors, but really this is a memoir that mostly focuses on Abby's medical history, and s
There's this quote in the book about how conditions that seem to lurk unnoticed in a woman's body go unnoticed by others because, for one thing, they are an assumed part of womanhood, and, for another, women are taught to keep those pains private. This was one of the parts - among many others - that really hit me because it took me almost a decade to realise that there might be something wrong with my body because ever since I was a child I heard that it's normal for periods to be painful to the ...more
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ask Me About My Uterus recounts science writer Abby Norman's years-long attempt to get doctors to understand that she is ill. Despite having endometriosis and other debilitating chronic pain conditions, medical professionals have repeatedly dismissed her as a "bright and wound tight" hypochondriac. Norman's story will be familiar in kind, if not in severity, to many women. Studies have repeatedly shown that doctors are less likely to believe women's accounts of their symptoms or suffering.

I foun
I received an ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I'm going to be honest and say that I was expecting more from this. I thought it would be more about Norman's health struggles and fights with her doctors. Instead, the constant focus on Norman's horrific childhood were a distraction from that. While her background was important to the story, it felt like there was more focus on it than necessary, turning it into a general memoir by Norman, rather than a medical-focu
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A cross between a blunt but heart-felt memoir and a medical mystery; Abby delves into life with chronic pain and a medical system which refuses to believe it. I appreciated that she early (and more than once) noted that despite the title; women are not defined by their ownership of a uterus. More than that; as a woman who has had her own medical woes, I recognized and can certainly empathize with the many familiar ways in which Abby has navigated a health care system which has always been Men Fi ...more
May 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this—after all, I’m super fascinated by the politics of the female body. And while I feel for the author, this book isn’t great. The writing and structure are clunky, and the whole thing is about 100 pages too long. Norman’s writing is best when she’s summarizing medical or historical knowledge, but those moments are often dwarfed by the meandering chunks of memoir. Despite the gorgeous cover and a few interesting tidbits, I’d skip this one in favor of more academic fare.
Alex Linschoten
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health
A personal story of endometriosis pain mixed in with the meta-tale of how female pain has always been undervalued by a (male-dominated) medical profession. Both parts are interesting, but her writing really shines when she describes the raw sensations in her body as well as her ongoing process of dealing with the fallout. Recommended.
Jillian Coleen
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook

I came across Abby Norman’s Ask Me About My Uterus on Bitch Magazine’s list of most anticipated non fiction for 2018 and was immediately interested. A few of the women that I love dearly in my life have been affected by endometriosis, and I’m aware that it’s a challenging disease to both diagnose and treat. Reading this, however, opened my eyes to just HOW difficult it can be to obtain quality healthcare for women, who are constantly questioned and disbelieved. It lit my rage on fire.

Norman walk
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Abby Norman's memoir covers her childhood, her request for emancipation at sixteen, and mostly her unending pain from endometriosis.

I do not have endometriosis, but I do have chronic pain. There were many parts of this book that made me stop, and stick in a bookmark, and nod my head in a 'yeah, I get you'. Abby Norman put in an amazing amount of time and effort to figure out her diagnosis on her own, because doctors were not able/willing to listen to her and figure it out on their end. And stil
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow, I was absolutely enthralled by Abby Norman's journey. Part memoir, part history of women's pain, this book was everything I was looking for & more. Norman is a skilled researcher, in large part, because her life has greatly depended on it, but also because she's truly an academic at heart. Norman artfully wove her story into the fabric of shared experience regarding women's turbulent history navigating our health in a medical world that is set up to dismiss us. This read is both extremely f ...more
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Abby Norman does an amazing job of describing life as a woman with endometriosis. She mixes in humor, with very specific details about living with this disease. It’s amazing she found the time and strength to write this terrific book. Reading her book let me know that my own struggles with endometriosis and adenomyosis are real, not in my head, and to keep searching for the right doctor who will listen and validate my pain.

In addition to being a great read, “Ask Me About My Uterus” is a wonderf
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
2019 review:

5 stars.

This was my first re-read of Ask Me About My Uterus - I read it again as research for my Society & Culture PIP. I have never once (in memory) cried because of a book, but this made me sob. I cannot express to you how much I needed this book in my life. Read it, read it, read it. This will not be my last re-read of this masterful piece of non-fiction.

P.S I wrote a short note to the author via Instagram and she so kindly replied.

2018 review:

5 stars.

I have read a few memoirs i
Corinna Fabre
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Ask Me About My Uterus is an informative and well-researched read on an under-treated ailment and, maybe more importantly, on the general systemic dismissal of women's pain. The author, Abby Norman, draws from her own medical experiences to illustrate the problems that are all too often faced by all women who look for help addressing chronic issues alongside her personal history to create a nuanced tale of what it takes to take your health and hope into your own hands.

To me, the book's shining
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I found Abby's story very relatable, we are both Sarah Lawrence women with chronic pain who have mothers with chronic pain who grew up below the poverty line. I love that she's bringing this issue to light because it's an important one. What I felt the story lacked was that it's structured as part personal narrative, part science/theory of endometriosis, part history of the treatment of women in medicine. I suppose I wanted more personal narrative, or more science and history. It kind of sits in ...more
Ashley Holstrom
Abby Norman suffers through undiagnosed endometriosis for years. Her leg goes numb, she loses 30 pounds, and when she goes to a doctor, she’s sent home with antibiotics. She knows her pain is real, not “all in her head,” so she starts digging through medical journals to find her own diagnosis. But doctors never believe her, thinking she’s too young and naive to really understand her body the way a medical professional can. A truly eye-opening read about gender bias in the medical community.

May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is kind of an odd mix of traditional memoir and illness narrative (I'm not sure that's the right term for that, but it's definitely a thing). It's definitely more illness- and endo-focused than something like Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir, and post-diagnosis, I think it does a really good job of showing how endo affects every aspect of her life. This doesn't have a tidy narrative resolution, which makes total sense, since it's a story about coming to terms with a chronic pain condit ...more
Leah Rachel von Essen
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve been putting off this review because I wanted to get it right. This book, you see, haunts me. Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women’s Pain is a horror story and a call to action. After falling sick in college and having to drop out due to her pain, Abby Norman spent years seeking a diagnosis, begging doctors to believe her pain was real or take her illness seriously. She was forced to take her research and pain into her own hands, fighting a daily struggle to find ...more
Sachi Argabright
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
ASK ME ABOUT MY UTERUS is an informative memoir from Abby Norman, a woman with endometriosis. Endometriosis is a chronic disease where tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. It can lead to severe lower abdomen and pelvic pain, and heavy menstruation cycles. This book explores womens’ pain and how difficult it can be for women to receive the medical care they need. Norman explores topics such as self advocacy, invisible illnesses, and the lack of support women receive whe ...more
Molly T
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Nation Books for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I have been looking forward to this book for months and am thrilled by its place in the revolution we are currently witnessing: women, especially young women, taking a stand against a patriarchal and hierarchical healthcare system that has failed us for centuries. Thankfully, my excitement was not misplaced.

Ask Me About My Uterus is part memoir and part social commentary, with Norman’s perso
Kristy Miller
I can’t begin to describe how difficult this book was to read. I knew it would be emotional read but I underestimated how emotional, how painful it would be to get through this. I thought it would be comforting to read about others struggling with the same things I have struggled with for 22 years, but it was just unrelenting.

The book itself is good. Abby lays out her struggle with endometriosis and other physical, mental, and emotional struggles of her life. Along with this she tells the infuri
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: medical
I have one question after reading this book: WHERE WAS THE EDITOR? Somebody really needed to go through this book and cut cut cut cut a lot of it. It's a shame, because I actually really enjoy the author's writing style and I am here for more books about women's experiences with endometriosis. The whole thing ends up being a jumbled health crisis memoir/ troubled family upbringing memoir/ history of women's health-lite, and it just doesn't work. About the author's upbringing- I get that some bac ...more
Mary Margaret
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book makes me angry.

I had a conversation with a lover about Hozier's Cherry Wine, and the music video that goes along with it. It's about abuse: He was struck by anger; I was simply sad. Later, I tried to reason with this response. Maybe anger stems from hate, and sadness stems from love. I was feeling sadness because of my feelings for previous lovers, for my mother, for every person I'm intimate with, who have bore bittersweet abuse; he was feeling anger because of his feelings surroundi
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Reading Women: August - Ask Me About My Uterus 2 42 Aug 20, 2019 08:43AM  

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Abby Norman is a science writer based in New England. Her work has been featured in Harper's, The Independent, Literary Hub, The Rumpus, Futurism, Paste, Seventeen, Atlas Obscura, Medium, and others.

She has been interviewed and profiled by NPR/WNYC, The New York Times, Playboy, Forbes, Glamour, and Bitch Magazine. Her work has been praised by The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal

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“Although a male physician could quite easily, and convincingly, assert that ovarian cancer was “silent,” if you were to really listen to women who have had ovarian cancer speak, you’d find that it wasn’t so much that the disease process was silent—but that they were. Conditions that seem to lurk unnoticed in a woman’s body go unnoticed by others because, for one thing, they are an assumed part of womanhood, and, for another, women are taught to keep those pains private. I’ve often found it curious that when a woman is suffering, her competence is questioned, but when a man is suffering, he’s humanized. It’s a gender stereotype that hurts both men and women, though it lends itself to the question of why there is a proclivity in health care, and in society, to deny female pain.” 8 likes
“In the face of scary things, knowledge was always a comfort to me. No matter what the subject was, if I could find a book or two about it, I could squash any anxiety that it might provoke. As my heroine Scully once said, “The answers are there, you just have to know where to look.” 5 likes
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