Date of Award

Fall 12-18-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Cassandra White

Second Advisor

Steven Black

Third Advisor

Emanuela Guano


This paper contributes to a growing body of literature on women with endometriosis, a gynecological condition in which tissue similar to the endometrium, or lining of the uterus which is shed during menses, grows elsewhere in the body. Despite a growing understanding of the disease in medical literature, it is still not well known by the general population or fully understood by the medical community. The paper incorporates a biomedical understanding with Emma Whelan’s idea of these women as an epistemological community, autoethnography, and narratives of sufferers in order to understand how women discuss, experience, and form communities around it. It draws upon individual interviews, a focus group, and readings of medical and social science literature and found that women of dissimilar socioeconomic backgrounds approached and discussed the disease distinctively from one another with three phases of coping with the illness: the discovery, quest, and revelation.