Julianne Hough shared her top tips for living with endometriosis

Jason Merritt/Getty ImagesJulianne Hough opened up to INSIDER about living with endometriosis.
  • Julianne Hough shared with INSIDER her best tips for living with endometriosis, a disorder in which the endometrium tissue that normally lines the inner uterus grows outside of the uterus.
  • Hough said it’s important to have an open dialogue with your doctor.
  • The star also said when it comes to sex, which can be painful for some with endometriosis, get creative and communicate with your partner.

Endometriosis is a painful disorder in which the endometrium tissue that normally lines the inner uterus grows outside of the uterus.

Read more: 9 answers to the most common questions about endometriosis that you were too scared to ask

If you’ve ever experienced excessive menstrual bleeding, abdominal cramping, and pain with sex, then there’s a chance you could have this condition. In fact, it’s much more common than you may have thought:An estimated one in 10 women between the ages of 15 and 49 are living with endometriosis today.

“At 18 my roommate said that she had endometriosis,” the actress and two-time “Dancing with the Stars” champion Julianne Hough told INSIDER. “I would see her curled on the floor in pain and think, ‘oh, that kind of sounds like me.'”

Hough had been experiencing “really sharp stabbing pains” as young as 15 years old, but she thought that what she was feeling was “just what it was like to be a woman.” It wasn’t until she was 20 that she finally decided to get help after she had an “episode” during a live shooting of “Dancing with the Stars.”

“Because I’m a competitor, I felt like I had to push through the pain and just work,” Hough said after receiving her diagnosis. “It was challenging at first, so I kept it to myself for a while. I didn’t want to have a disease. I didn’t want it to hold me back personally, professionally, and relationship-wise.”

Today, with a little symptom management and honouring her body’s feelings, Hough is able to do everything she loves.

“My body is very precious to me, I didn’t think of it that way before,” Hough said. “I really listen to my body throughout the day and acknowledge when I don’t feel well. How I take care of it and practice self-love is really important.”

If you’re living with endometriosis, here’s what you can do to stay healthy and strong, according to Hough.

Talk to your doctor.

Getty Images/Christopher Furlong‘I’m in constant conversation with my doctor,’ Hough said.

Because endometriosis is often diagnosed by exclusion, it could take several years to reach an official diagnosis, according to research published in Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Additionally, up to 20% of women with endometriosis have other chronic pain conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome, fibromyalgia, and migraines. “I’m in constant conversation with my doctor,” Hough said. “Every time I feel something different or changes I have an open dialogue with him, and we come up with a plan of action.”

Keep your body moving.

Marcus Ingram/Getty ImagesThe dancer is known for staying active.

It’s no surprise that exercising and moving her body is really important to the dancer’s daily self-care routine.

“I believe in energy and flow,” Hough said. “If I feel like I’m stagnant, then my body feels stagnant, and then my insides feel stagnant. So even if I don’t want to move or exercise, I’ll at least stand, put my hands on my hips, rub my belly and just send love to my pelvis.”

Honour your body.

Dave Kotinsky/Stringer/Getty Images‘It’s all about trusting your body,’ Hough told INSIDER.

That being said, Hough acknowledges how her body is feeling on a daily basis and makes conscious decisions on how to take care of herself within each moment. This may mean no dancing or exercising, given the day.

“In the beginning, my mindset was to power through everything,” she said. “I would never complain, suppressed the pain I was feeling, and just went on like I was fine.” Today, Hough listens to her body and honours her pain.

“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,” Hough said. “It’s all about trusting your body.”

Get creative in the bedroom.

Neilson Barnard/Getty ImagesHough is married to Brooks Laich.

When it comes to having sex, endometriosis can be painful. “It’ doesn’t hurt every time, but there are moments,” Hough said. “Fortunately im married to someone who is very understanding and supportive and only wants to love on me.” To keep things hot in the bedroom, Hough and her professional hockey player husband Brooks Laich get creative with foreplay, as well as stopping if there’s any discomfort. “There’s so much intimacy without actually having sex,” said Hough. “There are some cool things we’ve learned and it’s literally been awesome.”

Communicate with your partner.

Instagram/juleshoughHough believes in an open line of communication with her husband.

When trying to be intimate with a painful condition like endometriosis, communication is key. “I mean sometimes we’re in the middle and I’m like ‘AH, stop!’ It can definitely cut things short,” Hough said. “And then other times I’m just like’ babe, not tonight, I can’t.'”

He’s more than understanding and assures her that it’s OK if she’s not feeling up to it. Or, they make adjustments.

“If anything ever happens, he’s always asking if I’m ok or what can we do. He just wants me to feel good.”

Get support and know that you’re not alone.

Mike Windle/Getty Images‘There’s a tribe of women who support each other like crazy,’ Hough said

This was Hough’s number one takeaway for those living with endometriosis. “I didn’t know that one in 10 women have endometriosis,” Hough said regarding her initial diagnosis. “I thought I was the only one or couple of people. I felt very lonely.”

But with websites like SpeakEndo, there’s resources and support to help you find the information you need and connect you with others living with the condition.

“There’s a tribe of women who support each other like crazy,” Hough said. “I’ve been in the dance community and in the acting world; I’ve been in all of these pockets of life, and I’ve never had as much support as from the endo community.”

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

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