On Wednesday, Olivia Culpo underwent surgery for her endometriosis, a condition that affects up to one in 10 women in their reproductive years. The influencer opened up about the surgery and her experience in an honest and compassionate Instagram post yesterday afternoon.
“Endometriosis is a condition where tissue from the uterine lining decides to grow in other random parts of your body, causing pain. This can interfere with fertility and overall health and honestly — happiness,” Culpo wrote, calling the condition excruciatingly painful. “I have been in agony for years around my period and I was misdiagnosed countless times by doctors,”
Culpo added that before being diagnosed, she was often told by doctors that her ultrasounds looked normal and to just take Tylenol, a brand of paracetamol. “I think you just need to rest more, periods are always uncomfortable for people,” Culpo quoted one doctor saying before adding, “Painful periods are not normal!!!”
It takes adults with the painful condition an average of 6.7 years to be accurately diagnosed, according to the medical journal Current Obstetrics and Gynecology Reports. Emma Roberts recently spoke out about having gone undiagnosed for years, despite struggling with “debilitating cramps and periods,” in an interview in Cosmopolitan.
Unfortunately, many women with endometriosis can relate to the experience of having their symptoms brushed off by doctors. As Culpo points out, the condition can be difficult to diagnose because doctors are unable to see it on ultrasounds; diagnosis often requires surgery. But studies have also shown that doctors often don’t take women’s pain as seriously as men’s, which may also explain why it takes people so long to be diagnosed.
Culpo first opened up about having the condition this past August in an Instagram story. “There’s a surgery you can get for it but I don’t want to get,” she said at the time.
In her more recent post, Culpo thanked the medical staff at the healthcare organisation Atrium Health, calling them “literal angels.” The first two pictures show Culpo in her hospital bed, and the third shows her stomach with three, heart-shaped pieces of gauze taped to her midsection.
Culpo ended her caption with a shout-out to other people with endometriosis. “I understand the depression, and overall loneliness that can occur with a condition that is so painful yet so hard to be interpreted by other people outside of the body. It’s hard when chronic pain is not validated and you don’t get an answer or understanding,” Culpo wrote. “To my Endo warriors, I will continue to spread more awareness around endometriosis so that your symptoms can be validated. You are not alone and you are so strong!!!!”