7 Celebrities Who Have Shared Their Struggles With Endometriosis, Because It's Good To Know You're Not Alone
176 million people worldwide have endometriosis. Despite its prevalence, many people don’t know what it is. It's not talked about, it's under-researched, and it's persistently underfunded. For Endometriosis Awareness Month, Bustle UK is hearing from people living with the condition and doctors who specialise in it, and is opening up the conversation to help you get the treatment you deserve.
Coping with chronic pain, heavy periods, fatigue, and the many other symptoms associated with endometriosis can be a debilitating ordeal. However, something that can help those dealing with the condition is knowing that they're not alone. Some celebrities have shared their struggle with endometriosis, in the hopes that their stories will help others.
Endometriosis is defined by the NHS as "A condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes". It can affect women at any age and symptoms include debilitating pelvic pain, heavy or irregular periods, and fatigue, to name just a few.
These are some of celebrities who have opened up and shared their experiences with the condition in an effort to make people aware that endometriosis is very real and women need not suffer in silence.
1. Padma Lakshmi
Top Chef host and founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America, Lakshmi has been very vocal about her struggle to be diagnosed and the anguish it caused her.
Speaking on stage at Variety's Power Of Women event, she put into cold hard facts what the condition has cost her. "I was diagnosed at 36 after suffering every month since the age of 13 with so much heavy bleeding, cramps, nausea, backaches and digestive issues that I was stuck in bed one week out of every month when my period came. One week a month, three months a year for 23 years. That’s five years and nine months of my life that I was bedridden. Missing school dances, math quizzes, auditions, family milestones and wedding anniversaries."
She also went on to point out the glaring unfairness of how she has been treated by medical professionals in the U.S. That if she was a cis man that she would have been treated differently. "If I was a man and couldn’t get it up there would be many drugs, many treatments, pumps even… And it would be covered by insurance".
Lakshmi's campaigning for awareness surrounding endometriosis has made a huge difference for many people, including the next person on this list.
2. Lena Dunham
Writer and producer Dunham has been very vocal about her struggles with endometriosis. In 2017, she made the decision to have a hysterectomy to try and treat the debilitating disease.
In true Dunham style, she was completely open about the procedure and wrote a truly moving essay for Vogue about her experience. She also shared a photo of herself nine months after her operation on Instagram, explaining in the caption how she never expected to celebrate it in this way.
"I've never celebrated the 9 month anniversary of anything and I realized last night why that number feels so funny — I won’t ever do it the way I planned to. My body is mostly healed and every day I find a new bruise on my heart, but today I offer myself gratitude," she wrote.
U.S. singer Halsey has shared her battle with endometriosis in such an open and brave way that she was honoured with the Blossom Award (an award from the Endometriosis Foundation of America for those who have helped raise awareness of endometriosis).
She spoke about how Lakshmi's support has helped her along the way. "I have had really amazing people like Padma, who have come to me, like, 'Hey, you need these heating pads, this tea, this medicine and you need to know when to say no,' and those little things have given me a lot of grace along the way."
She has also posted photos on her Instagram account of her various treatments.
4. Whoopi Goldberg
Legendary comedian, host, actor, and all round boss Goldberg has spoken openly about her endometriosis several times in the past. She's also a big supporter of the Endometriosis Foundation of America. In a speech at the charity's 2009 Blossom Ball, she said that she has been shocked over the years to realise how many people, including her own daughter, are unaware of endometriosis. So she has made endometriosis visibility one of her personal passions, advocating for those with the condition and even developing some marijuana based treatments for period pain.
5. Emma Bunton
Baby Spice herself has also been at the forefront of conversations around endometriosis. Diagnosed at 25, Bunton told Elle magazine she was terrified by the information she received. "I remember the doctor saying at the time, 'Fifty per cent of [people] with endometriosis go on to have children'. I thought, only 50 per cent? It scared the life out of me".
6. Susan Sarandon
Sarandon was diagnosed with endometriosis aged 36, after struggling with the condition for 23 years. She did all this while maintaining an incredibly successful acting career. She has been involved with the Endometriosis Foundation of America and shared her anguish at how people with the condition are treated by medical professionals, on the organisation's website. "Years and years after suffering with this and thinking of myself as someone who was, I do not know, weak and someone hysterical. It seemed like my mom was the only one who actually believed me. I ended up harbouring a lot of resentment. I was extremely depressed, I was suicidal because I did not see an end to it," she wrote.
Stating that early detection and treatment is the best form of prevention, Sarandon emphasised that signs must not be ignored. "Endometriosis is a war that patients fight every day. It is not normal for your daughter to be laying on the couch suffering saying she cannot go out of the house. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Do not suffer in silence."
7. Daisy Ridley
Star Wars: The Force Awakens actor Ridley has been open about her experience with the condition, with which she was diagnosed aged 15. Studies suggest endometriosis is exacerbated by stress, and back in 2015 when she was propelled into stratospheric stardom, Ridley's stress levels peaked. Speaking to Elle Australia she explained how debilitating her illness is. "I was in my flat going nuts, and then my skin got really bad with the stress of it all, and I hadn't been well—I had holes in my gut wall and stuff—and we were trying to figure out what to do with that because I'd felt poorly."