This article explores how young prenatal women negotiate, articulate, and manage their experiences of chronic pelvic pain (CPP). I argue that chronic pelvic pain lies at the intersection of chronic illness, pain, feminization, sex, and legibility, and that pain of this character is deeply stigmatized. Investigating it offers a visceral view into the affective layers of chronic pain. This project draws on ethnographic interviews with CPP sufferers aged eighteen to thirty, pelvic health care providers, and sex and treatment tool production companies. The analysis is rooted in histories of frigidity, hysteria, and chronic illness that together affect how CPP is socially understood today. This article explicates the critical differences between prompted recurrent pain and constant bodily pain in terms of the subjectivity of associated experiences, the problematic insistence on vaginal penetration as evidence of cure, and the dilemmas of treating pain with doubly painful therapies.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.