themighty logo

Julianne Hough's Recent Endometriosis Claim Is Dangerous – Here's Why

As a woman with endometriosis, I’m always so hopeful when celebrities with endometriosis speak up. I think that more people will listen to them, understand how this disease wreaks havoc on anyone who has it regardless of social status or ethnicity, and that it might inspire more conversation to create positive changes and direction for this incurable disease.

Unfortunately, a lot of times when these influencers talk about endometriosis, it kills my hope instantly because their remarks are often not factual or misleading. I’ve found the best place for endometriosis education is in patient-led groups, like Nancy’s Nook, a Facebook group solely dedicated to educating patients, practitioners and loved ones about endometriosis with evidence-based information.

The latest celebrity to disappoint is Julianne Hough. In an interview for the May edition of Women’s Health magazine, the dancer claimed her symptoms subsided due to a holistic approach that included changing her energy. Hough said:

I will tell you through this transformation of really connecting back to my truth, I haven’t had symptoms of endometriosis because of the love and kindness I’m giving to my body. I believe there’s stress, shame, guilt, and suppression of female energy that’s associated with endometriosis, so de-layering that has really helped.

Really?

Listen, I am all for trying anything that could help manage my endometriosis, but to say symptoms can subside by giving your body love and de-layering your emotions is dangerous and unfair to everyone living with endometriosis.

Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (endometrium) is found outside of the uterus. Endometriosis is a physical condition and its lesions can grow anywhere in the reproductive system as well as on other organs including the bowel, bladder and even higher up on the lungs and diaphragm.

Therefore, boiling down endometriosis treatment to a mind over matter concept simply does not work. Do not get me wrong, she may be able to cope and accept her disease symptoms and pain by being more kind and loving toward her body, especially if she’s eating a diet that works for her unique body makeup. But there is a reason why excision surgery by a vetted endometriosis specialist is currently considered the gold standard treatment for endometriosis.

Unfortunately, I don’t see how the physical presence of endometriosis
could be “loved” out of your body, regardless of how kind you are or how much emotional “de-layering” you do.

While not every person experiences life-changing results from their excision surgery, I’m one of many it helped. I tried everything to cope with my endometriosis pain – constant birth control treatments, skipping my periods for years, changing my diet, working with a nutritionist to enhance my diet, therapy to “de-layer” all kinds of emotions, two surgeries, two rounds of invasive but highly effective pelvic floor physical therapy, meditating daily for over two years, journaling, getting back into yoga, acupuncture, the list goes on and on.

But do you know what gave me my life back out of all the things I tried? My second surgery, which was my first excision surgery with an endo specialist, not an ablation surgery from a local gynecologist. That well-versed endometriosis surgeon cut out everything suspicious he saw and sent it over to pathology to confirm if endometriosis was present. He had to physically remove tissue from inside of my body for me to feel this relief.

Let me repeat that: He had to physically remove tissue from inside my body to give me relief.

I’ll never forget being out on our kayaks for the first time after my excision surgery recovery and waiting for that familiar pain to hit me
again. I knew exactly where it used to be, I could point to it on my body, but my body and mind were so confused when we couldn’t find that pain after the surgery.

It was scary. Scary to think that something may have actually worked finally after so many failed attempts, that something may finally improve my quality of life (as this disease hit me hard and fast in my early 30s). It was also scary to think that my companion, constant pain, may no longer be at my side, day in and day out, and become a stranger to me.

That’s why it’s so dangerous to speak of these claims when you have the power and audience to influence others.

People with endometriosis will want to believe people like Hough, that all they need to do is be kind and love their body, break down their emotional barriers or trauma, and their pain and symptoms will subside. It gives them hope, so they will try with all their might because we are all that desperate to find any form of relief.

If that fails, what then? We didn’t love ourselves well enough? We didn’t try hard enough? We need to give it more time? Or is it perhaps that we don’t have access to the same level of care as you?

It’s not right and it’s not fair. Anyone with endometriosis knows how much this disease can take away from you. To publicly share that all you need to do is love your body is honestly quite cruel.

If this helps Hough cope and accept her disease, more power to her. I’m so happy she found something that helps her endometriosis pain and symptoms. Truly, I mean that. I am always happy when someone finds something that works for them, whether it helped me or not. This disease is so hard to make peace with and tends to feel like a never-ending battle. Don’t overlook your triumphs.

But Hough’s approach won’t work for all of us, maybe even
none of us, because every person with endometriosis is so different.

I truly believe you need a multidisciplinary approach to manage this disease. Endometriosis needs more research and long-term studies to be done so we can understand it. We need to provide more accessible and affordable treatment or management options because what we have right now isn’t working for a high majority of us.

Bottom line: Hough’s loving kindness theory to reduce endometriosis pain and symptoms sounds too good to be true, and likely is.

To all of you who have tried this approach before and did not see any results, that does not make you any less of a person or devalue you in any way, shape, or form. I commend you for trying everything possible to find some relief because I’ve been down that road before too.

Be super cautious when you see claims like this regardless of who they come from. You know your body best. Do everything you can to find ways to survive because this disease brings forth one hell of a war.