Inspiring Women: Julianne Hough Gets Candid About Living With Endometriosis
Julianne Hough opens up about her endometriosis journey and the new campaign, SpeakENDO.
Taking a quick glance at Julianne Hough's life, you would never expect that she's living with a painful disorder — and she's not alone. Julianne, along with approximately 176 million women worldwide, has endometriosis, a disorder that causes the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus to grow on the outside. Endometriosis can be painful, with symptoms ranging from intense cramps to nausea, and in some cases even infertility.
Diagnosed ten years ago, Julianne now feels driven to talk about her journey, educate others on endometriosis, and in turn help support and empower other women. That's why she teamed up with SpeakENDO, a campaign aimed at doing just that. SpeakENDO is a trusted resource that helps women talk about their symptoms and claim their power through proper knowledge and understanding. It also encourages women to share their stories with the hashtag #SpeakENDO.
We chatted with Julianne about her personal experience with endometriosis, how she stays healthy, and why she's passionate about SpeakENDO.
What about your personal experience with endometriosis encouraged you to partner with SpeakENDO?
Julianne Hough: For the longest time after I found out I had endometriosis in 2008, I felt like, this is so personal, maybe it’s uncomfortable for people to talk about so I'm just going to keep it quiet. And then I realized, after years, that so many people still don’t know what endometriosis is and yet 1 in 10 women have it. I feel it’s my responsibility to absolutely speak up and encourage women to "speak endo" — which is what the campaign is — to learn about what it is, understand the kinds of questions you should be asking your physician, and to know what the pain and symptoms look like. This is something that I think will be part of my life mission. The more people know the better you feel and the more you feel understood.
What advice do you have for women recently diagnosed with endometriosis?
JH: I think having a good support system is key. With the campaign there is the hashtag #SpeakENDO, and there is a huge amount of women using their voices to be support systems for people that are just finding out they have endometriosis, or for people who are asking questions if they do. It's incredible. I’m so inspired by the women who have already been sharing their stories and being there for other women.
How do you handle those days you find yourself really suffering from painful symptoms?
JH: I definitely listen to my body. If I’m not able to get up and go workout, then I don’t — I get in the bathtub and put salts in and really just take the time to send my love and nurture that area. I think a lot of the time we get pissed off and angry about a situation that we might be having and pain that we're feeling instead of just embracing it. When we’re angry at it, it has ownership over us, but when we love it and have self-love, that’s when it doesn’t define us and we have control over it.
You can do that and try take some precautions for it too, like, I try to eat foods that take inflammation away or that don't produce inflammation. Turmeric has always been really great, and avocados have also been amazing. I also get cozy and use my hot water bottle that I end up carrying around like a baby because I'm always bouncing with it (laughs). I just do the things I need to do. And If I need to work that day I tell the people I'm working with, hey, I'm having a bad episode with my endometriosis and I'm going to do my best to be my best today, but if I have a moment I’m going to ask that I can have five minutes to just recover. And just knowing that they know gives me so much more peace, because then I feel like we’re in this together and they have my back.
What other wellness practices do you do, even on those days you aren't experiencing any painful symptoms?
JH: I do priming in the morning where I breathe in and out of my nose and lift my arms up and down a lot — I do it 30 times, take a break, then do it two more times. Then, I think of three things I'm really grateful for, and three things I can attain that day — small, little, achievable goals — and then I do it. By doing that I realize I'm out of my head, this isn’t about me, I'm grateful for where I'm at, and I'm serving others by attaining these goals. Then my day is so much better and so much more present with people, instead of in my head thinking "what do I have to do, it’s all about me."
How did you feel when you were first diagnosed? Did you feel scared or did you feel comfort at finally being able to put a name to your symptoms?
JH: It was a combination. I was definitely happy that I could put a name to the pain and that I wasn’t just weird, or that I wasn’t weak and just had low tolerance for pain that everyone else felt was normal. But it also scared me because I was like, "what does this mean, I need answers, what is this?" I would have loved to have had a website like SpeakENDO to have a trusted resource of information. Back then I didn't, so I really trusted my doctor, and thank goodness I had a great doctor. But for other women who might not or who need to find some of this knowledge on their own, SpeakENDO is such a great opportunity for them to feel empowered.
Here at Livingly our motto is "live life beautifully" — what does living beautifully mean to you?
JH: Living life beautifully to me means living an authentic, true life. It means embracing the essence of who you are and not apologizing for it, and constantly growing. I think growth is the most important thing; if you’re not growing you’re dying. That’s a huge thing for me this year especially — growth. This is a year of learning for me. Or I should say heavily learning, because I'm going to keep learning the rest of my life.