Julianne Hough is opening up about her struggles with endometriosis. The 30-year-old dancer and TV personality speaks with Women’s Health magazine about how the condition affects both her life as an athlete and her sex life with husband Brooks Laich.
Hough notes that she first started experiencing symptoms when she was 15, but didn’t realize that she suffered from endometriosis at the time.
According to the Mayo Clinic, "endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond pelvic organs."
"Because I’m a competitor, I felt like I had to push through the pain and just work,” Hough explains.
The former Dancing With the Stars pro was officially diagnosed with the condition at 20, calling the experience “an emotional trauma.”
"At the time, I felt very lonely and like nobody understood me,” she admits. "I had no idea that [so many women] have endometriosis."
The condition has definitely permeated into her sex life with Laich.
"It can definitely cut things short. Sometimes we’re in the middle and I’m just like, ‘AH, stop!’” Hough says, adding that other days she can’t even begin to have intercourse.
The couple still works on keeping the atmosphere in the bedroom intimate, even without sex.
"It can be really frustrating,” she confesses. "[Brooks] only wants to love on me and make me feel good. There’s so much intimacy without actually having sex. There are some cool things we’ve learned and it’s literally been awesome.”
After living with endometriosis for more than a decade, the dancer reveals that it’s given her a new outlook on her body.
"My body is very precious to me. I didn’t think of it that way before. If I don’t feel like working out that day, then I don’t do it. If I want to sleep in, then I will,” she shares. "The more educated you become, the more powerful you’re going to feel. You have two choices: You can hate it, or it can just become part of you. It doesn’t need to define you, it’s just an aspect of who you are.”
Back in March 2017, ET spoke with Hough about her disorder, and how her then-fiance reacted to learning of it.
“My fiancé, at the beginning of our relationship was like, ‘What’s going on?’ when I would have -- I call them ‘episodes’ -- where I would have really bad pain and I’d be curled over. He’d be like, ‘Are you OK?’” she recalled at the time. “And now that I’m able to talk openly with him, he’s so supportive and gets it. And he’s not freaked out anymore.”
For Hough, it was important to be open about her endometriosis in the hopes of making others who suffer feel less alone.
“I just want people to feel supported and women to know they’re not alone in this,” she said. “I know I’m a tough cookie so I just want everybody else to know too. You don’t necessarily have to go through debilitating pain and just act like nothing’s wrong if you are having these symptoms.”
Hough isn't the only celebrity who has spoken out about living with endometriosis. Here's Lena Dunham's story: