ou'd never know from her super active lifestyle that Julianne Hough is fighting a battle with endometriosis, but dealing with the painful medical condition—which affects the uterus—is something she's been faced with since she was a teenager.
The Dancing With the Stars judge suffered with the condition for years before getting treated, chalking up her distress to being something normal that she needed to come to terms with. But now, she's speaking up about the disorder to encourage other women not to suffer in silence.
"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," The 28-year-old star—who is a spokesperson for Get in the Know About Me in EndoMEtriosis campaign—told Entertainment Tonight in an interview. "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."
Hough has even had to tweak her workouts to manage the pain, and occasionally allows her body to rest altogether.
“I just want people to feel supported and women to know they’re not alone in this. I know I’m a tough cookie so I just want everybody else to know too. You don’t necessarily have to go through debilitating pain and just act like nothing’s wrong if you are having these symptoms," she shared. "I definitely still have to stop certain things and take a few minutes if there are sharp pains. But 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."
But Hough hasn't had to deal with the disease on her own—she has her fiancé Brooks Laich by her side. "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."