(NEW YORK) — Julianne Hough hopes being vocal about her struggle with endometriosis will help more women feel comfortable talking about their own experiences. In an interview with People, she talked about her diagnosis.
“When I was 15, I had symptoms of endometriosis, but I had never heard of it, didn’t know what it was,” she said. “I thought that this was just the kind of pain you have when you’re on your period. For years, I was just thinking that it was normal and never really talked about it.”
After being rushed to the hospital in 2008, she found out about her condition and soon had surgery.
“The first initial thought was a little bit of fear because I didn’t know what it was, especially because it’s not talked about as much as it is today,” Hough said. “And then also relief because I was able to put a name to the pain, and know there were treatments and I could talk to my doctor and create a plan to help manage the pain.”
She’s now working with a campaign to raise awareness of endometriosis. She said it’s about starting an open conversation about symptoms.
“I don’t care about being private about this anymore because I really want the women that are going through debilitating pain to benefit from my story or this campaign,” the Dancing With the Stars judge said.
She’s made some adjustments since her diagnosis — she slows down when she needs to, and takes days off when necessary, but said she still leads an active, healthy lifestyle. Her fiancé, Brooks Laich, has been a source of support, Hough said.
“He’s amazing,” she said. “The first time he found out about it was because I was having an episode, and I couldn’t even speak. As soon as it passed, I was able to tell him what it was. Now he knows when I’m having a little episode, and just rubs my back and is there for me and supports me. There’s comfort in knowing that the people around me get it and understand, so I don’t feel like I have to push through the pain because I don’t want to look weak.”
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