When Julianne Hough was a teenager, she was convinced that her extremely heavy and painful periods were simply part of being a woman. She suffered for years with the debilitating pain, until finally she was diagnosed with endometriosis, a disease that causes the tissue that's meant to grow inside of the uterus to grow on other parts of the body. It affects one in every 10 women, and it can seriously diminish quality of life if it's left untreated.
Julianne opened up about her personal struggle with endometriosis in an interview with Today, describing the pain as sudden and excruciating. "This feels like sharp, dagger pains, and it's almost instant," she said. "It comes out of nowhere, and all of a sudden I'll be like, 'Oh, crap,' and then it will last for a minute and then go away. And then another sharp pain, and then it will subside."
The worst part is this kind of pain happens often — "three or four times a day, for a span of five minutes," Julianne said. There was a point during her performance on Dancing With the Stars when the pain was so bad that her mother had to take her to the hospital at the drop of a hat.
After many years of discomfort — and seeing many different doctors — Julianne was relieved to get a diagnosis of endometriosis. "It sort of gives you peace of mind, like a name to the pain," she explained. "Just knowing that I'm not the only one who feels this and that I'm not overreacting." Although there is no cure for endometriosis, there are treatments, and we're so happy to know that Julianne is getting the care she needs and deserves. She still deals with pain on a regular basis, but at least she knows what disease she's up against and has medical professionals who can help her along the way.
Julianne is now the face of a campaign called "Get in the know about ME in endoMEtriosis." She's trying to break down the stigma around this disease and encourage women everywhere to speak to their doctors if they are experiencing any symptoms, such as very long periods, excruciating cramps, extraheavy flow, and nausea.