The Olympic gold medalist is sharing her journey to "inform and support other women who may be struggling with this painful disease"

By Benjamin VanHoose
September 18, 2020 12:29 PM
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Tara Lipinski in September 2019
| Credit: Jerritt Clark/Getty

Tara Lipinski is opening up about her experience with endometriosis.

On Wednesday, the 38-year-old former figure skater — who struck Olympic gold when she was 15 at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan — shared a selfie from a hospital bed on Instagram, explaining that the snapshot is from two weeks ago before she underwent surgery for endometriosis.

Lipinski wrote that she wanted to share her health battle with her followers in order to "inform and support other women who may be struggling with this painful disease."

"As an athlete I’ve been conditioned to be hyper competitive about succumbing to pain and injury, something that definitely helped during my skating career," she wrote. "But it’s probably not the best approach now. I went in and out of this surgery pretending it wasn’t happening and telling myself to feel no pain and get back to my normal routine immediately."

"And while I feel lucky to be 'back in the game' under the care of an incredible surgeon, I still thought I’d share my journey, hopefully to bring more awareness to this condition."

The Olympian, who married sports producer Todd Kapostasy in 2017, described herself as a "very health conscious person" who "always felt like an encyclopedia of what could physically go wrong with my body."

"The irony of my endometriosis diagnosis is that I knew almost nothing about a disorder that affects one in ten women. That’s 176 million people. I’d never heard another woman mention 'endo' or the complications and pain that accompany it," she explained. "And that definitely shows the lack of information that’s out there and the comfort level that affected women have discussing their endometriosis."

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"I think the more we talk about endometriosis, the more proactive we can be about treatment," added Lipinski. "To me, it feels like a hush hush topic that women feel they just need to tough out. No woman should live in pain or think 'this is just something I have to deal with.'"

Lipinski said she has struggled with endometriosis for years, acknowledging, however, that she's "one of the lucky ones." She said her symptoms weren't common for the condition, like how many women endure monthly pains due to endometriosis on their ovaries.

"... I still had intermittent pain that I overlooked," she wrote. "And I probably didn't describe my symptoms accurately or forcefully enough to my doctors for them to suspect endometriosis."

She said the pain "progressed" in the past five years, but she ignored it since it "wasn't constant or startlingly intense." After symptoms got worse this year, she researched her options and chose to undergo the surgical procedure.

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"I had an excision procedure, that uses robotic scissors to cut the endo from the places where it exists," she explained. "My surgery was a success. I had a 'moderate amount of endo' and pretty much 100 percent of it was removed. I feel lucky that my recovery has been mainly pain free. This certainly isn't the case with all women- every case, surgery, and recovery is unique."

"Again, I am one of the lucky ones," she added. "After a week or so I began to even forget I had surgery until I'd look down at the battle wounds across my stomach. It felt so good to finally have a diagnosis."

Lipinski joins a list of celebrities who have talked openly about their experiences with endometriosis, including Savannah ChrisleyJulianne Hough, Padma Lakshmi and Olivia Culpo.