Newlywed actress Julianne Hough has opened up about her battle with endometriosis in a bid to help other women in pain.
The Footloose and Rock of Ages star, who was a former professional on U.S. TV show Dancing With the Stars, is raising awareness for the chronic disorder, which occurs when tissue grows outside of the uterus, as part of the Get in the Know About ME in EndoMEtriosis campaign, aimed at helping women identify and address symptoms.
In a new InStyle interview, she reveals she was stunned when she was diagnosed.
"If I'm being completely honest, the first thing that crossed my mind was, 'Oh my God, I'm not gonna have babies!'" she says. "Then it settled in and I thought, 'Woah, this is a disease. I have something that's just not normal, and not everybody has it. What is this, and what do I do now?'"
Julianne gradually felt relief that at least she had "a name" for the the pain she had been suffering since she was a teenager.
"I had peace of mind in knowing that there is a name to what I had, and knowing that I didn't have to necessarily stay as strong and ignore it like I did in the past," she tells the publication.
"When I was younger, I just thought, 'Man, this sucks. But I'm a woman now and I'm having my period and these are just normal cramps. This is what women go through'. I didn't want to complain or be the person who's obnoxious with self-pity and all that stuff. No pity party in the corner over here. So, thinking it was normal, I ignored it."
That all changed when she was 18 and she learned her roommate in Los Angeles suffered from endometriosis.
"(She) would be hunched over in the bathroom and in so much pain, and she told me she had this thing called endometriosis. I thought, 'That sounds like me and that's how I feel, but I don't want to make a big deal out of it. The word endometriosis is way too complicated and too long, and it sounds too medical and I'm too scared of it.'
"So for a few more years, I just dealt with it. Then I was on Dancing with the Stars... and I would have what I called episodes when I was dancing. I had a big episode and my mom was like, 'What's going on with you? I'm taking you to the doctor. This is not OK...'
"It took me three days to get a proper diagnosis... It was quick and crazy. When I found out, I chose to have surgery, which isn't recommended for everybody. But I needed it for myself. I decided not to really talk about it in too much detail, because it's super personal. It's women stuff, and I thought people would feel uncomfortable or I would feel uncomfortable if I brought it up.
"Then I realized that this is life, and one in 10 women have this. It's way more common than people think, and if I don't say something about it, other women are just going to feel like they don't want to complain or look weak either."
Hough is now hoping that her endometriosis battle won't affect fertility issues as she contemplates starting a family with her new husband Brooks Laich.
"I think what's going to happen is going to happen," she smiles. "I've heard that getting pregnant is actually good for it. That's what my doctor tells me. He's amazing... He performed my surgery, and I'm pretty sure he'll deliver my babies eventually.
"It turned out that a couple of my sisters and my mom have it, too. They didn't know before then, and they got pregnant a lot - one of my sisters has six kids, so maybe that was a period of time where she just thought everything was fine. When I got diagnosed, it helped them get diagnosed."
Hough isn't the only celebrity who has opened up about endometriosis battles - Lena Dunham, Jaime King, Roselyn Sanchez, and singers Halsey and Monica also suffer from the disorder.