by Corinne Heller | Thu., Mar. 23, 2017 11:55 AM
They suffer from endometriosis, a female reproductive disease in which abnormal tissue grows outside the uterus. Symptoms include extremely painful menstrual cramps, heavy periods and abdominal pain. Treatments for endometriosis include pain relievers—which could cause liver damage if used excessively, hormone treatments—which come with their own lists of side effects, and surgery, which offers short-term relief.
The disease can lead to complications such as fluid-filled cysts on an ovary, as well as infertility, and can be life-threatening if left untreated.
March is National Endometriosis Awareness. Read these celebrities' stories to find out more about the disease:
Lena Dunham: The 30-year-old Girls star and creator had written about her experience with endometriosis in November 2015 in her Lenny newsletter.
"I am lying in the fetal position on a twin bed in an attic somewhere in upstate New York. I've taken one and a half Percocets, chewed not swallowed to hasten the effect, and I'm hot and itchy as a result, slipping in and out of cartoonishly gothic dreams," she wrote.
She said that she had experienced symptoms of the disease since she first got her period and ended up in the ER a couple of times due to pain and also underwent surgery as an adult, after which she was finally diagnosed. The doctor told her the disease had affected her abdomen, bladder, liver and appendix, which was found to be infected and was then removed. Dunham started hormone injections, which caused her body aches and temperature changes.
But she still experiences symptoms. Dunham said last year she "won't be out and about doing press" to promote Girls as she battles a "rough patch" of endometriosis. A month later, she underwent surgery for a ruptured ovarian cyst.
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Also last year, Dunham opened up about the possibility of battling infertility as a result of her disease. She told Jane Fonda in an interview published by Paper magazine that she had often told longtime boyfriend and musician Jack Antonoff that she is getting to the point where she wants to have kids.
"I have endometriosis, and I've said to my boyfriend, 'If fertility ends up being a challenge for me, I'm not gonna be the person who spends six years in IVF,'" she said. "For me, years and years of hormones and body manipulation wouldn't work for my psychology and my body and it's not important enough to me that my child come out of my body and it's not important to me, really at all, that the child belonged to Jack and me on a genetic level."
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Julianne Hough: The 28-year-old Dancing With the Stars pro-turned-judge was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2008 after she was rushed to a hospital with severe stomach cramps.
"It turned out I ruptured a cyst that was on my ovary," she wrote on her blog. "I didn't know but I have endometriosis. I've apparently had it for a long time because I've had this pain for about the last five years. It hasn't been as bad. Up till last week, I let it go and I was always too busy to get it checked out. But because it happened when I was on set, they made me go to the doctor."
"They want to clean out the cysts and take out my appendix, too, because later on it can be affected by the cysts," Hough wrote. "Endometriosis is a common thing for women. I was like, 'Thanks Mom for giving me my great life—and endometriosis.' I said that jokingly."
Hough later told E! News she had suffered in silence for five years before she was diagnosed.
"I didn't want this whole drama with, like, the cameras filming you," she said. "I kept going through the show and I was just kind of quiet, and through the show it just kept getting worse and worse."
"Right after the show, I came back and just curled up in a ball and I was just sobbing," Hough recalled. "And there were cameras, and I'm like, 'I love you guys, but I did not break my foot. This is something personal. Do not film this.'"
She said she thinks talking about her experience can help other girls and women.
"You don't have to ignore pain," she said.
Lacey Schwimmer: Hough's fellow Dancing With the Stars pro, 28, revealed her own endometriosis diagnosis days after she did.
Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Dior
"8 yrs of pain and undiagnosed PCOS & Endometriosis," she wrote. "9 doctors until Dr. Randy Harris diagnosed me & saved my life from a severe ectopic, 5 miscarriages, 5 rounds of IVF, 26 IUI's, most with no outcome, 4½ years of trying to conceive."
King has two sons with husband Kyle Newman.
Padma Lakshmi The 46-year-old's rep revealed in 2009 that the Top Chef host was pregnant with her first child, saying that doctors are referring to the pregnancy as a "nothing short of a medical miracle" because Lakshmi suffers from endometriosis. She welcomed daughter Krishna, whose father is a past ex, the following year.
Lakshmi appeared to the Today show in 2016 and talked about her past troubled marriage to another ex, Salman Rushdie, and how her health affected their relationship.
"Like any marriage it had its ups and downs," she explained," and I think also we were dealing with another issue that we didn't know about at the time: endometriosis."
"At the time I really needed to take care of my health, and I couldn't take care of my health and get well and also take care of my marriage," she admitted. "I did the best I could."
"I suffer from a lot of female problems: cysts, and I had endometriosis," she said. "I now think—and have been told—that the fibroids probably caused my miscarriage a couple years ago."
The reality star shares a 6-year-old daughter, Bryn, with ex Jason Hoppy.
Halsey: In January, the 22-year-old singer, whose real name is Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed on Instagram and said that she had "braved multiple terrifying surgeries," including a procedure that "would hopefully treat my endometriosis."
"For those of you who have followed this battle of mine or who may suffer with it yourself, you know the extremes to which it can be mentally exhausting and physically painful," she wrote. "OK HONESTLY I'm in total agony right now (and I'm going to be in excruciating pain for a while cause I had quite the cocktail of procedures today)."
"If you suffer from chronic pain or a debilitating disease please know that I have found time to live a crazy, wild, rewarding life AND balance my treatment and I hope so much in my heart that you can too," she wrote.
Tia Mowry-Hardrict: The 38-year-old Sister, Sister, Tia & Tamera and The Game alum told Women's Running magazine in 2014 that she was diagnosed with endometriosis four years ago and that her doctor recommended working with a nutritionist to overhaul her diet.
"Sugar was like a drug I was addicted to," she said.
Daisy Ridley The 24-year-old British star, who plays Rey in the new Star Wars movies, revealed in June 2016 that she was diagnosed with endometriosis at age 15.
"One laparoscopy, many consultations and 8 years down the line, pain was back (more mild this time!) and my skin was THE WORST," she wrote on Instagram. "I've tried everything: products, antibiotics, more products, more antibiotics) and all that did was left my body in a bit of a mess. Finally found out I have polycystic ovaries and that's why it's bad. I can safely say feeling so self-conscious has left my confidence in tatters."
"To any of you who are suffering with anything, go to a doctor; pay for a specialist; get your hormones tested, get allergy testing; keep on top of how your body is feeling and don't worry about sounding like a hypochondriac," she said.
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