Olivia Culpo on endometriosis: ‘I cut out gluten, dairy, sugar. I was still in so much pain’

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Olivia Culpo has been outspoken about her endometriosis struggles, a disorder that affects around 11% of women. After trying many different natural remedies Olivia had a more invasive procedure last year to relieve her debilitating pain. Oivia talked to People Magazine about her journey and said she tried limiting her diet to combat endometriosis. Olivia said she eliminated sugar, gluten, caffeine and dairy but that it didn’t work. To highlight endometriosis for Endometriosis Awareness Month, Olivia has partnered with the Endometriosis Foundation of America to share her story and encourage those with painful periods to seek help. Below are a few excerpts from People:

On how bad her endometriosis was before surgery
“It was getting to the point where not only were my periods becoming unbearable, but then I’ve learned also that like another symptom of endometriosis as it’s progressing is you have pain even in between periods. It’s not only even when you’re on your cycle, it could be in between. I really tried my hardest to pretend that it wasn’t there, and just cope and be able to do normal things that I wanted to be able to do. And then eventually, I realized that it was not possible. I just remember being on planes curled up in the fetal position, just crying to myself.

“It slowly takes over your life. You begin to plan your life around endometriosis because you can’t function. Every month, you don’t know if it’s going to be five times worse than last month, or ten times worse.”

She tried so many things before surgery
“I cut out caffeine. I cut out alcohol. I cut out gluten, dairy, sugar. And I was still in so much pain. And I think what had changed for me is when I felt like I had exhausted all resources outside of this more evasive [sic] route.

How she felt after surgery
“I was definitely in pain,” she says of the days after surgery. “But to be honest with you, it was nothing compared to the pain that I had been feeling on a monthly basis. It’s nothing. It’s a walk in the park compared to the monthly pain that you have with endo.”

[From People]

I have never suffered from endometriosis but I used to have terrible pain during my periods when I was younger. The doctors thought I had endo but when I had my gallbladder removed they checked my uterus and there was nothing. In my case it was just that my hormones had been out of whack since I hit puberty. Over time my pain is almost non existent and every once in a while I will have a bad month. I empathize with women who suffer from endometriosis because I know it can be hella debilitating. I am very proud of Olivia and the other women who are talking about it. They’re helping other girls and women so that they don’t feel alone in their struggles. I hope there be more awareness and research so at some point we will have either a cure or other options to lesson the pain. I also think that there should be more protection around feminine disorders for women who work and need time off every month. We should not feel shame for something we can’t control. Good luck to Olivia and good on her for partnering with the Endometriosis Foundation.

Here is a Q&A Olivia had with her doctor, endometriosis and OB/GYN specialist Dr. Smitha Vilasagar:

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