In some very wonderful women’s health news, Julianne Hough is leading a new endometriosis awareness campaign called “Get in the Know About Me in EndoMEtriosis” in partnership with Abbvie. Okay, obviously there is nothing absolutely wonderful about living with endometriosis, but it’s nice to see more and more celebs, like Lena Dunham and Tia Mowry, come out and be frank about their condition. Because the more we know about endometriosis, the better we can treat women who suffer from it.
This national campaign is all about awareness. Resources about the symptoms of endometriosis are being made available to women everywhere, as well as action plans to bring up with your doctors and even a symptom tracker on the website. Hough and the campaign are also encouraging women to talk about their experience on social media using #MEinEndo.
Although endometriosis affects one in ten women in the United States, many women still aren’t aware of the symptoms or know how to talk to their doctor about it. As a result, it often goes undiagnosed and women are left to silently suffer.
HelloGiggles spoke with Hough about her work with this campaign, and why it’s so dear to her heart. She recalls the signs of endometriosis first appearing when she was a teenager.
The first time she heard about endometriosis was from a roomie she had when she first moved to L.A. Hough says that although her symptoms sounded similar, it didn’t click that she had it, too. Hough says, “I had never heard of endometriosis. The term sort of went over my head.”
Later during the 2008 Dancing With The Stars season, her symptoms got so bad that she had to leave the set. A doctor recommended a laparoscopy, which is the only way to diagnose endometriosis. Since then, Hough has been taking trying out contraceptives to control the symptoms.
Just in case you’re not quite sure what endometriosis even is, it occurs when tissue that normally grows inside the uterus starts to grow outside of the uterus. This leads to long-term pelvic pain, painful sex, and excruciating periods for most women. The only way to diagnosis it is through a laparoscopy, which is a minor surgery where the doctor inserts a little viewing tube through a small incision to see where tissue is growing. They might even remove some of the tissue at the time, and then prescribe contraceptives or recommend a diet change to temper the symptoms.
Dr. Rebecca Brightman, an OB-GYN acting as an education partner with the campaign, tells HelloGiggles that there’s no exact cause for endometriosis, “but you may be at greater risk of developing endometriosis if you have risk factors such as a female relative with the condition or heavy cycles that last longer than seven days.”
But here’s the thing: endometriosis is not the end of the world. There’s no cure, but there are lots of ways to manage the symptoms once you’re diagnosed.
Dr. Brightman is excited for the campaign to raise awareness because she, like Hough, believes that too many women are ignored when they bring up their symptoms. “So many women suffer in silence for years. They certainly may have been told that “it’s all in their head,” she tells HG.
Both Hough and Dr. Brightman hope that through the “Get in the Know about ME in EndoMEtriosis” more and more women are empowered to talk about their symptoms and educate themselves and others. Women who don’t have endometriosis can also raise awareness, along with empowering and supporting the women in their lives that are suffering from this disease.
She adds, “I want women not to make the same mistakes I did. Don’t let yourself or other women go through years of debilitating pain, living without an understanding or accurate diagnosis of endometriosis.”
We’re here for all of it. You can check out the resources on the campaign’s website and follow the #MEinEndo hashtag on Twitter to get involved. Let’s all pitch in to help our friends, sisters, and mothers identify and fight endometriosis — because nobody should have to suffer alone.