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Why Do We Glorify A Woman ‘Tolerating’ Pain, When We Never Expect Men To?

Posted: April 1, 2021

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What is there to glorify in pain? Do we need to prepare young girls for the pain of childbirth by making them get used to it in the years leading up to it, whether or not they decide to become pregnant later?

I don’t know what it is about women and tolerating physical pain.

Today, one of my neighbors (a woman) was talking to me about her terrible body pain and how she doesn’t take any painkillers. She would rather suffer the pain.

As a kid, when I used to have terrible menstrual cramps, I used to take one painkiller on the first day of my period (prescribed by my mother). Even with that, the mere act of getting up from bed was difficult.

Yet, every friend (girl) in school, college, or hostel used to advise me against taking it. They would rather have suffered the pain.


“Get used to it”

Women are falsely told (by whom, I don’t know!) that if they take painkillers to kill menstrual pain they won’t ovulate, they will have trouble conceiving, etc.

There’s also this covert conditioning that you shouldn’t make a big deal of pain if you are a woman.

Suffer, that too in silence, is the motto.


My mother is a doctor and she prescribed me a painkiller which I have been taking since the age of 10 when I got my first period, till date. That is 33 years. I not only conceived but also had a normal delivery in my 30s.

It is only last year, after I started doing yoga regularly, that I have been able to get up from bed on the first day of my period without a painkiller.

But even then, I have been taking the painkiller in spite of the pain having reduced by 50% because why should I tolerate the remaining 50%?

I was the only one there who howled in labour pain

When I went in for my delivery (which turned out to be a natural birth), the pain started at 8:30 in the morning. The contractions started as gentle waves at first and then as tsunami waves. I screamed my lungs out for every contraction. Nobody from a woman’s family was allowed inside the labour room in that hospital at that time (this was in a famous hospital in a small town in Kerala in 2009).

There were four other women in that room (which was like a dorm but with separators in between beds) but I did not hear a squeak from a single one of them. They were all so well behaved even in the midst of the most painful event of a woman’s life!

When the pain got too much at around 2 pm, I begged the doctor for an epidural, which I got at 2:30. From then on, till I delivered Riyaan at 4:30 pm, the pain was subdued, bearable, but still intense.

When I told other women that I got an epidural, it was like I betrayed motherhood because I couldn’t take the pain. Hello, I took it for more than 5 hours, didn’t I?

Aren’t we women used to pain?

When I went for an ayurvedic treatment for my frozen shoulder last year, the masseuse, a young girl, massaged me so strongly that I screamed out in pain and she gasped and said, ”chechi, don’t scream, there are heart patients in the next door rooms! And anyway, aren’t we women used to pain? You have a child, you should know this.”

That young girl had already internalized the belief that women should tolerate pain and silently at that.

Most of the women I know hesitate to take painkillers, not because they are afraid of the side effects, which anyway only kick in if you get addicted to them and take it on a daily basis, but because of a deep-seated belief that pain = woman.

Pain is a part of a woman’s life, you better get used to it.

F that.

And answer these questions

Why should you tolerate pain?

What will happen if you take ONE painkiller once a month, even if you take it for 40 years?

What will happen if you ask your doctor to reduce your pain during your delivery?

What will happen if you take a painkiller if you are having intense body pain?

Of course, it’s important to get to the root cause of it and weed it out, but even for things that are a part of a woman’s life which are unavoidable, such as menstruation and childbirth, do we need to put up with it?

What is there to glorify in pain?

Do we need to prepare young girls for the pain of childbirth by making them get used to it in the years leading up to it, whether or not they decide to become pregnant later?

Do we have to teach them that painkillers are bad?

Why does a high pain threshold deserve a pat on the head if its a woman?

Never seen a single man put up with pain even for one minute.

Image source: shutterstock

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Karishma has been writing short stories since she was 8 and poetry since she was

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