It took years for Tia Mowry-Hardrict to learn that the pelvic pain she had dealt with for years was endometriosis, and she doesn’t want that to happen to other women, especially in the Black community.
The actress and cookbook author, 40, struggled to get a diagnosis from multiple doctors.
“I’d been experiencing extreme pelvic pain for years and went to several doctors. Each one would brush me off. ‘Those are just really bad cramps, some women get them more severely,’ one told me. ‘Just put heat on it,’ one suggested. Another doctor simply said: ‘Get on the treadmill — working out helps,’ ” Mowry-Hardrict wrote in an essay for Women’s Health.
But the former Sister, Sister star had a gut feeling that something else was happening to her body.
“No one should ever have cramps so bad that they’re ready to call an ambulance” she said. “I once found myself crying in the back of my car, and my sister Tamera had to drive me home because I was in too much pain to drive. Back when I was in college, I would sometimes skip class because I just needed to sit on the toilet to relax the muscles around my uterus. Even though multiple doctors told me not to worry about my symptoms, I knew in my gut this was serious.”
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Mowry-Hardrict said that it wasn’t until she found an “incredible” African-American doctor who recognized her symptoms that she was finally diagnosed with endometriosis.
“She explained that endometriosis occurs when the tissue that belongs inside your uterus grows on the outside instead,” Mowry-Hardrict wrote. “It’s very painful, and many African American women are often misdiagnosed because there’s been less research done on the prevalence of endometriosis in our community.”
Worried that she wouldn’t be able to have the children she’d always dreamt of, Mowry-Hardrict revamped her diet and underwent multiple surgeries to relieve her pain and increase her odds of getting pregnant. She had her first child, Cree, in 2011, and then after several years of fertility struggles, she had her second, daughter Cairo, in May 2018.
And though she resisted talking publicly about her endometriosis and fertility issues at first, Mowry-Hardrict decided it was important for her to use her experience and platform to help others.
“Even though I had an amazing support system, I often felt like something was wrong with me. I thought I was alone because no one I knew personally had dealt with this. And then I realized: I’d never really seen someone African American in the public eye talking about endometriosis or their struggles with infertility. And when you don’t know or see anyone else who looks like you talking about what you’re going through, you feel alone and suffer in silence,” she said.
That’s why she wants to reach out, especially to the Black community.
“As Black women, we’re particularly at risk for endometriosis, yet so many of us don’t even know what this condition is,” Mowry-Hardrict said. “If more of us talked about it, more women might say: ‘Hey, I’ve had those symptoms, let me go get checked.’ Compared to other communities, it feels like there’s a void when it comes to talking about healthy living and medicine from African American women, for African American women.”
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