Julianne Hough Says Her Endometriosis Pain Can Make Sex 'Really Frustrating'
The dancer and former Dancing with the Stars judge, 30, has had the reproductive condition for 15 years; it means her uterine tissue grew outside of the uterus, causing cramping and chronic pain.
“It can definitely cut things short,” Hough told Women’s Health. “Sometimes we’re in the middle and I’m just like ‘AH, stop!’ It can be really frustrating.”
But Hough said that her former-NHL-player husband is receptive and understands if she needs to pass on sex. And she’s also learned that foreplay gets them just as satisfied.
“He only wants to love on me and make me feel good,” she said. “There’s so much intimacy without actually having sex. There are some cool things we’ve learned and it’s literally been awesome.”
“I thought it was just what it feels like to be a girl with bad periods,” she said. “I didn’t think to go to the gynecologist. Because I’m a competitor, I felt like I had to push through the pain and just work.”
But at age 20, the pain was so crippling that she had to go to the emergency room during a live taping of Dancing with the Stars. From there she was diagnosed and had her first laparoscopy, a surgical procedure to reduce her symptoms.
While it was a relief to have an answer for the pain, Hough struggled to come to terms with the idea that her body was failing her after years of athletic training. Plus, endometriosis wasn’t widely talked about.
“It was an emotional trauma,” she said. “At the time, I felt very lonely and like nobody understood me. I had no idea that [so many women] had endometriosis.”
But that’s changed, thanks in part to Hough, who speaks openly about her condition and is an ambassador for SpeakENDO. She had a second laparoscopy one year ago, in Jan. 2018, and now treats her body with care.
“My body is very precious to me, I didn’t think of it that way before,” she said. “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.”
Though she does make a point to stretch and move in some way. “If I feel stagnant, then my body’s stagnant, and then my insides feel stagnant,” she said. “Even if I don’t want to move or exercise, I just stand with my hands on my abdomen, move my hips, and send love to my pelvic area.”
Hough encourages other women with endometriosis to take control of their situation.
“The more educated you become, the more powerful you’re going to feel,” she said. “You have two choices: You can hate it, or it can just become part of you. It doesn’t need to define you, it’s just an aspect of who you are.”