"I have been in agony for years around my period and I was misdiagnosed countless times by doctors."

By Faith Brar
November 20, 2020
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Credit: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Over the summer, Olivia Culpo revealed on Instagram that she has endometriosis, a painful disorder in which the tissue that lines the inside of your uterus grows outside onto other organs. Since then, she's been sharing several updates on her experience with endo, from home remedies for the symptoms to diet changes that have helped ease her pain.

This week, Culpo updated her followers with some big news about her condition. "Yesterday I had surgery for my endometriosis," she wrote in an Instagram post on Thursday. "Not a very glamorous post but I felt like I needed to share this to create more awareness around this disease."

Culpo went on to share how much endometriosis has affected her life. "[It] can interfere with fertility and overall health, and honestly, happiness," she wrote. "To top things off, [endo] is excruciatingly painful but nearly impossible to see through an ultrasound." (Related: Halsey Opens Up About How Endometriosis Surgeries Affected Her Body)

Considering how hard it usually is to detect endo via ultrasound, Culpo noted that she was only able to get diagnosed and receive the right treatment because she'd developed endometriomas on her ovaries, which are clearly visible on an ultrasound. Endometriomas, otherwise known as deep ovarian endometriosis, are dark fluid-filled cavities that develop deep within your ovaries as a result of severe endometriosis, according to Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH). They can vary in size and are also referred to as "chocolate cysts," as Culpo mentions in her post.

Endometriomas are quite serious, as they can contribute to infertility and have the potential to destroy all remaining healthy ovarian tissue, according to BWH. In some cases, that can cause partial or complete loss of ovarian function which, in turn, can cause medical barriers for those undergoing fertility treatments later on, according to BWH.

For women of childbearing age (like 28-year-old Culpo) who are dealing with extreme pain, surgery can be a good option, according to BWH. While surgeries to address endometriosis-related issues differ on a case-by-case basis, they're often performed laparoscopically, according to the Mayo Clinic. During the procedure, a surgeon inserts a laparoscope (a long bendable tool with a camera) through a small incision near your belly button. Based on what's visible through the laparoscope, the surgeon can then insert other instruments through several more small incisions on your abdomen to remove unwanted endometrial tissues or drain cysts, according to the Boston Center for Endometriosis. While the surgery can help ease some of the pain associated with endometriosis, the Mayo Clinic notes that the relief isn't always long-lasting. (Related: Lena Dunham Had a Full Hysterectomy to Stop Her Endometriosis Pain)

For now, Culpo seems optimistic, sharing on her Instagram Stories that she's recovering well, aside from a little (expected) inflammation.

But getting to the point of needing surgery has been an exhausting process, she shared in her post. "I have been in agony for years around my period and I was misdiagnosed countless times by doctors," she wrote.

"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," Culpo continued. "Painful periods are not normal." (Related: Dangerous Myths Are Preventing Me from Getting the Endometriosis Care I Need)

At the end of her post, Culpo thanked her "amazing" doctors and hospital staff for taking care of her. She also shared some encouraging words for her fellow "endo warriors."

"To anyone out there who has 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," she wrote. "It's hard when chronic pain is not validated and you don't get an answer or understanding. 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."

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