The way Julianne Hough kills it on Dancing With The Stars, as well as other musical productions like Grease Live!, it's hard to imagine that she's often grappling with an invisible illness. Hough has endometriosis, a painful medical condition that affects the uterus. She's only recently started opening up about her diagnosis, and told Entertainment Tonight how she juggles the pain with her active celebrity life.
While she's experienced the symptoms of the condition for some time, it wasn't officially diagnosed until close to ten 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," she explained. "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."
Now that she's more familiar with her body, she's able to be honest with her colleagues when she needs a break.
"I think because I have been open about it and I talk about it, people get it and it doesn’t feel like I have to hide it or that I have to bear through it," she said. "It’s like, 'Hey, can you give me just a minute?’ And they’re like, 'Yeah, absolutely.'"
Plus, she has her fiancé, Brooks Laich, there supporting her. He's totally understanding of her pain, although it was journey for both of them to get to this place.
"And what’s amazing too is 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 said. "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."
Hough's openness about her endometriosis will also help other people who may be suffering. Whether they don't know it, or if they do and aren't sure how to make their lives work around it, it's comforting to see someone going through the same thing. Honesty is key, and people like Hough – and like Lena Dunham, who has also been vocal about her condition — are an inspiration to stay strong.