For 176 million women worldwide, endometriosis is a chronic disease that is a painful part of life. Several courageous celebrities have shared their personal stories of struggling with the disease. Their stories are helping raise awareness about endometriosis.

  • Emma Bunton: Baby Spice was diagnosed with endometriosis at age 25 and had her son, Beau, in 2007.
  • Hillary Clinton: The former presidential candidate had trouble conceiving daughter Chelsea due to endometriosis.
  • Lena Dunham: HBO’s “Girls” star and creator has been very public with her health journey through endometriosis by discussing it in a recent Vogue interview and writing a lengthy description of her experience in Lenny Letter.
  • Whoopi Goldberg: She has known about her endometriosis for a long time and speaks publicly to build awareness after learning many women lacked knowledge of the condition.
  • Tia Mowry-Hardict: Tia was able to conceive and now has a son despite her endometriosis diagnosis after two surgeries and making lifestyle changes,
  • Julianne Hough: Julianne described the pain of endometriosis like “a knife was being stabbed in me,” Julianne had surgery in 2008 after a cyst ruptured on her ovary.
  • Padma Lakshmi: Padma was diagnosed at age 36. She is an outspoken advocate and co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America.
  • Cyndi Lauper: The famous musical artist had her rise to fame followed by grave illness and an endometriosis diagnosis. She had son Declyn at age 44.
  • Jillian Michaels: Jillian was told that getting pregnant would be challenging when she was diagnosed with endometriosis at only 28. She became the mom of two in 2012 when she adopted a daughter from Haiti and had a son carried by partner Heidi Rhoades.
  • Dolly Parton: While on a 35-date tour in 1982, Dolly was taken to the hospital for a partial hysterectomy due to endometriosis. She was then told she would not be able to have children.
  • Daisy Ridley: The Star Wars starlet was diagnosed at age 15 and has shared her experiences with endometriosis as well as polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Susan Sarandon: After experiencing irregular bleeding and fainting, Susan was told she would have difficulty conceiving. The Hollywood actress overcame the odds and had three children.
    Sources: Endometriosis News, Huffington Post

If you have endometriosis, know that you are not alone. As you can see, endometriosis didn’t stop many of these women from having children and fulfilling their dream of family. Don’t let an endometriosis diagnosis stop you from pursuing your dreams of parenthood.

What is endometriosis?

It usually takes 10 years from symptom onset to receive an accurate diagnosis of endometriosis, according to the Endometriosis Foundation of America. Endometriosis is commonly misdiagnosed, often multiple times. The long diagnostic process is due to a lack of knowledge among the general public and medical community.

Each month during menstruation, the endometrial lining found inside the uterus sheds from the body. Endometriosis occurs when this lining, which is normally found inside the uterus, grows outside the uterus or in other parts of the body.

The endometrial tissue growing in other parts of the body cannot drain from the body as it normally would  when it breaks down and sheds during a normal menstrual cycle. This causes inflammation and pain. Besides the uterus, endometrial lining can grow on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, on the outside of the uterus, lining the pelvic cavity, between the vagina and rectum, as well as distant organs.

How does endometriosis impact fertility?

Roughly 35-50% of women diagnosed with endometriosis also have infertility. This makes endometriosis one of the top three causes of female infertility. Not all women with endometriosis experience infertility. Approximately 60-70% of women with endometriosis are able to get pregnant.

The development of scar tissue and adhesions in the pelvic region can cause blockage in the fallopian tubes and damage the ovarian reserve. Endometriosis can create a hostile environment for sperm and eggs, or simply cause the ovaries and tubes not to function correctly. Surgery and medical treatments can resolve issues in some cases. Outpatient surgery is often necessary to diagnose the extent of endometriosis, but other non-invasive approaches like ultrasound or other radiologic techniques can be helpful.