Celebrities who have endometriosis
One in 10 women has endometriosis — a condition in which implants similar to the lining of the uterus are found outside the uterus and result in heavy, painful periods. With 176 million people worldwide affected by the disruptive condition, it is a serious but neglected public health issue.
Recently, several famous faces have started speaking out about their struggles with the sometimes debilitating condition in an attempt to destigmatize the wider discussion surrounding menstruation.
Lena Dunham, writer, producer and star of the hit HBO series Girls, has battled endometriosis since her first period. She has undergone five surgeries to treat the condition in the past year alone and openly discusses how the disease has impacted her life through essays on her Lenny Letter site.
Julianne Hough says she started having symptoms when she was 15 but wasn’t properly diagnosed with endometriosis until 2008 when the heavy bleeding and pain forced her to take time off from Dancing with the Stars for surgery and recovery.
To help people learn about the condition, Hough has become the face of an awareness campaign called Get in the Know about ME in Endometriosis. The dancer and actor stressed the importance of women being able to talk about the condition openly and being supportive of each other.
“So even if you’re not the me in endometriosis, there might be someone around you who might be,” she told SheKnows earlier this year. “It’s all about starting this conversation. I want to be a voice and a person who can help women.”
Over the past few years, Padma Lakshmi has become one of the most recognizable faces of endometriosis — so much so that she went on to co-found the Endometriosis Foundation of America. The TV host, model and author has discussed how despite being highly educated and living in a major city with access to high-quality health care, she initially had never heard of the disease.
The singer Halsey was first diagnosed with endometriosis in January 2016 and underwent multiple surgeries to treat it one year later. In a post-op Instagram post tagged #endowarrior, she wrote: “For those of you who have followed this battle of mine or who may suffer with it yourself, you know the extremes to which it can be mentally exhausting and physically painful.”
Susan Sarandon manages to raise awareness for endometriosis while stressing that the condition should not define those who suffer from it. After years of pain, she received what she describes as a “half-assed diagnosis,” which included half-hearted treatments, but not a comprehensive explanation of what they were or how the disease worked.
“When all you know is pain, you don’t know that that is not normal. It is not a woman’s lot to suffer, even if we’ve been raised that way,” she said in 2011.
Bethenny Frankel had laparoscopic surgery in her early 30s to help treat her endometriosis and has recently discussed her struggles with the disease. Several years prior, she experienced bad cramping and spotting and was diagnosed with cysts and fibroids on her uterus. Ultimately, she said it was getting pregnant that helped her pain subside the most. “Don’t feel shame,” she wrote on her website. “Other women are going through the same issue and it’s okay to talk about it.”
Tia Mowry Hardrict
Tia Mowry Hardrict has spoken out about her endometriosis and is especially vocal about what she believes to be a connection between the condition and diet.
“The most surprising thing is how food can exacerbate inflammation or get rid of it,” Mowry-Hardrict told SheKnows. “Food can be medicine, and if you eat foods that alkalize the body, it’s amazing how that can slow down and fight inflammation.”
Monica is the most recent celebrity to publicly discuss her endometriosis after undergoing an eight-hour surgery to remove cysts, fibroids, a hernia and endometrial tissue. The singer didn’t know she had the condition until two weeks prior to her surgery.
Whoopi Goldberg was never one to shy away from discussing important matters in women’s health, and endometriosis is no exception. At the 2009 Endometriosis Foundation of America’s Blossom Ball, she remarked, “If you don’t discuss it, many more women are going to find themselves unable to have children or find themselves close to dying because it’s led to something else.”
In 1985 at the age of 36, Dolly Parton underwent a partial hysterectomy to treat endometriosis. Back in 2008, she spoke out about not only her surgery, but also the severe depression that followed when she realized that she would never be able to give birth. “It was an awful time for me. Every day I thought, ‘I wish I had the nerve to kill myself,'” she said. (We’re so glad you’re still here, Dolly!)
Marilyn Monroe’s short life was full of pain — some of which came from having endometriosis. Though she made a secret of wanting to be a mother, all of her pregnancies ended in miscarriage or being ectopic.
Monroe’s desire to become a mother was especially apparent in a note she taped to her stomach before going into surgery to have her appendix removed. In it she wrote, “Save please (I can’t ask you enough) what you can — I’m in your hands. You have children and you must know what it means — please Dr. Rabwin — I know somehow you will!…For God’s sakes Dear Doctor no ovaries removed.”
Some have even linked endometriosis to the iconic actor’s use of and later addiction to painkillers — which ultimately ended her life — but there is no definitive proof of this.
Originally published on SheKnows.
Images: Getty Image.