Model and Instagram influencer Olivia Culpo has been super candid about her experience with endometriosis after sharing with her followers in 2020 that she struggles with the chronic disease, and has used her platform to advocate for other women living with debilitating pain.
"I've never publicly said this before but I have endometriosis," she wrote in an August 2020 Instagram Story over a video of herself laying on a couch with a water bottle on her abdomen. "Aka the most excruciatingly painful cramps/periods. Anyone else reading this have Endo? No fun."
In case you’re not familiar with it, endometriosis is a condition where tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of it, per the Office on Women’s Health (OWS). It can cause symptoms like painful cramps and periods, bleeding or spotting between periods, infertility, and digestive issues. It’s estimated to impact more than 11 percent of women, according to the OWS.
In a series of Instagram Stories, Olivia said she read a lot of DMs from fans and was surprised that so many could relate. "I can't believe that a lot of you also suffer from endometriosis," she said. "It is so not fun, very painful."
In November 2020, Olivia underwent endometriosis surgery.
After her surgery, she shared a few post-op pictures to her IG page, including one of her new scars. “Yesterday I had surgery for my endometriosis ❤️ Not a very glamorous post but I felt like I needed to share this to create more awareness around this disease," she captioned the post. "Endometriosis is a condition where tissue from the uterine lining decides to grow in other random parts of your body, causing pain.”
She went on to explain how the condition can interfere with her fertility as well as her health and happiness.
“To top things off it is excruciatingly painful but nearly impossible to see through an ultrasound (unless you have endometrioma/chocolate cysts on your ovaries- that’s what I had). I have been in agony for years around my period and I was misdiagnosed countless times by doctors. 'Just take Tylenol every day' 'ultrasound looks normal,' 'I think you just need to rest more, periods are always uncomfortable for people,' etc. I know a lot of people out there in the Endo community are familiar with these diagnoses which is why I am so passionate about this.”
Olivia thanked her surgeon and the hospital staff who took care of her during her stay, calling them “angels.”
“It’s hard when chronic pain is not validated and you don’t get an answer or understanding. 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!!!!”
In October 2023, she shared a health update.
Three years after her surgery, Olivia told MedlinePlus that she’s doing “so much better since my surgery." She also shared that prior to the procedure, she couldn’t go to work without being in "excruciating pain,” and her debilitating pain made even air travel difficult. Olivia would have to curl up in a ball in her seat until the plane landed.
“But once that pain went away, my entire world opened up. I felt like I got my life back,” she told the pub. “I’m on birth control, which has helped a lot. I’m not pain-free, but I can do anything I want now.”
Olivia has used her own story to increase awareness.
Ever since her 2020 Instagram Story sharing her diagnosis, Olivia has been urging her followers to go to the doctor if they have painful periods.
“Painful periods are not normal. You just want to make sure that everything is ok if you did want to get pregnant,” she said in her initial video. “You just never know. You don't want to wait too late, so I want everyone to take that seriously."
Olivia said she’s “passionate” about talking about this because women may struggle to conceive and not realize why. And, in some cases, she said, by the time women discover what’s behind their infertility, it may be too late to talk alternative options, like freezing their eggs.
"I just feel like if you're someone out there with super painful periods, it's very important to take it seriously," she said. “Just figure out what your egg count is and then maybe look into other options if you have to."
How is Olivia doing in 2024?
During a Q&A on her Instagram Story in November of 2023, the Culpo Sister star shared a health update. “It’s going really well,” she said, adding that she’s “so grateful to my doctors.”
“Endometriosis never ‘goes away’ but there are a lot of ways to suppress the disease and painful symptoms”, she wrote on her IG story. “If you or someone else you know think you have endometriosis make sure you are with a trusted doctor and always get a second or third opinion!”
Olivia also explained how important it is to get a qualified surgeon to prevent having to “re-do [surgery] a bunch of times" and to get faster pain relief. She ended the post saying, “I love you guys!! Always here for you and really grateful I can help some of you out there navigate this shitty situation.”
And after a follower asked if she’d thought about whether her fertility could be affected by endometriosis, Olivia, who is currently engaged to NFL star Christian McCaffrey, got super candid about her dreams for the future. “All the time because of endometriosis!” she responded. “I just pray about it and trust God’s plan.”
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