Julianne Hough Opens Up About Trying to Dance Through Her 'Debilitating' Endometriosis

'I just remember doubling over in pain and having to leave the show for a week.'

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Julianne Hough may be best known for her amazing choreography on "Dancing With the Stars," but the chipper, smiling persona we see on TV every Monday night is far from the whole story. As the new spokeswoman for AbbVie's Get in the Know About ME in EndoMEtriosis campaign, Hough is opening up about her long and painful struggle with endometriosis, a chronic condition that affects 1 in 10 women around the world.

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As a teenager, Hough wrote off painful cramps as no big deal, powering through the pain as best she could.

"For the longest time, I thought: this is the way my period is," she told Glamour. "I didn't want to complain, so I'd just deal with it and ignore it."

But the pain persisted, even as she was launched into her professional dance career with the ABC show in 2008.

"At 20 years old, I was on 'Dancing With The Stars,' and I just remember doubling over in pain and having to leave the show for a week," Hough told Parade.

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After visiting multiple doctors about her pain (and a scary trip to the hospital during "DWTS," she revealed), one OB-GYN finally gave her a diagnosis.

"Fortunately, I had a great doctor who was able to diagnose me with endometriosis and it was such a relief because it was like, 'Oh, I actually have a name to this pain,'" Hough told Entertainment Tonight. "It was comforting knowing that it wasn't just something I had to deal with."

Because she didn't want to seem "weak," Hough told Parade, she often powered through the pain and kept moving. "It was pretty debilitating having to be active and dancing through the the sharp pains."

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"It's hard to be active sometimes. I'm a dancer, I'm onstage," she continued. "There will be times where I'll just say, 'I need 10 minutes, guys.' And I don't feel bad about it. I need to do what's right for my body. In the past, it was very much like, 'Oh, I'm fine, I'm fine,' but I was just totally lying to myself. So now it's empowering that I don't have to be this tough cookie anymore. I can just be me."

She told Glamour how she's since been able to listen to her body and cope with the pain better than in 2008.

"Warm compresses help, so does getting cozy," she said. "I get cozy with my dog — I call her my heating pad!"

My Furry Valentines! Again.... how lucky am I?! ❤❤❤❤❤🐼🐶🐻

A post shared by Julianne Hough (@juleshough) on

Her pups aren't her only adorable supporters when she's in pain. The engaged dancer revealed to Entertainment Tonight how concerned yet supportive her husband-to-be, hockey player Brooks Laich, is during her painful symptoms.

"At the beginning of our relationship [he] was like, 'What's going on?' when I would have 'episodes,' where I would have really bad pain and I'd be curled over," Hough told ET. "He'd be like, 'Are you ok?' And now that I'm able to talk openly with him, he's so supportive and gets it. And he's not freaked out anymore."

In addition to having a solid support network, Hough saids being educated and understanding endometriosis has helped her "feel powerful" instead of feeling constantly weak and in pain.

"I realized how important it was for me to be open and bring awareness," Hough said. "I got a floodgate of comments and followers — people were coming together and supporting each other. I feel really great about that — it gives me a reason to keep being open."

[h/t Glamour]

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