While Julianne Hough is known for showing off her incredible dancing skills on Dancing With the Stars, the dancer and actress is now using her platform to speak out about her struggle with endometriosis. Hough recently opened up to Entertainment Tonight and Glamour about battling the illness, which she was diagnosed with in 2008, and revealed that her fiancé, professional hockey player Brooks Laich, has been an especially important source of support.
"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 told ET. "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."
Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue that typically lines the inside of the uterus grows outside the uterus, causing severe pain, typically during menstruation. The disease affects approximately 5 million women in the United States.
One symptom of endometriosis is that it can potentially affect a woman's fertility, and Hough said that she's definitely planning for children in the future and is now focused on paying closer attention to her needs.
"We want to have a family—that’s definitely in my plan. I'm doing what I need to do for me," Hough told Glamour. "It was pretty debilitating having to be active and dancing through the the sharp pains. Now I’m able to handle myself better. Warm compresses help, so does getting cozy. I get cozy with my dog—I call her my heating pad!"
Hough is using her platform as a celebrity becoming a spokeswoman for AbbVie's Get in the Know About Me in EndoMEtriosis campaign, which aims to elevate the conversation about endometriosis and spread awareness.
But her personal life isn't the only aspect of her life that's felt the impact of her endometriosis. Hough also opened up about how the diagnosis affected her career as a dancer when she received it nine years ago.
"When I was on Dancing With the Stars in 2008, I had really, really bad pain to the point where I had to actually leave the show. I was so scared," Hough told ET. "I went to the hospital and everything. Fortunately, I had a great doctor who was able to diagnose me with endometriosis, and it was such a relief because it was like, 'Oh, I actually have a name to this pain.' It was comforting knowing that it wasn’t just something I had to deal with."