'Star Wars' star Daisy Ridley wants you to get tested for this infertility issue

Posted June 14

“Star Wars” actress Daisy Ridley doesn’t want you to give up when you’re down about your illness.

She shared on Instagram this week that she was diagnosed with a gynaecological condition, endometriosis, when she was 15 years old. The illness — a disorder in which the tissue that normally forms on the lines of the uterus grows on the outside — made her stressed out as a teenager, pushing her to struggle with self-esteem issues.

More recently, public appearance and a rough schedule over her starring role in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” brought her struggles back.

The “pain was back (more mild this time!) and my skin was the worst,” she wrote. “I’ve tried everything: products, antibiotics, more products, more antibiotics and all that did was left my body in a bit of a mess. Finally found out I have polycystic ovaries and that’s why it’s bad.”

But she’s found some solutions to help her deal with the illness. She’s made some dietary changes — she’s been told to cut out sugar, something she’s not happy about — and sought out some professional help.

Ridley hopes that her recent Instagram post will act as an example for others to seek help for their own conditions and never let it get the best of them.

“My point is, to any of you who are suffering with anything, go to a doctor; pay for a specialist; get your hormones tested, get allergy testing; keep on top of how your body is feeling and don’t worry about sounding like a hypochondriac,” she wrote. “From your head to the tips of your toes we only have one body, let us all make sure ours our working in tip top condition, and take help if it’s needed.”

Endometriosis is a major issue among women; 1 in 10 have it in the United Kingdom alone. It’s something that celebrities like Lena Dunham, Susan Sarandon and Whoopi Goldberg all have struggled with too, according to The Huffington Post. In fact, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development estimates that between 6 and 10 percent of women have the medical issue, which includes about 5 million women in the United States.

The illness is most common among women in their 30s and 40s, but it can happen to any women who menstruate, according to the NICHHD.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the disorder is “when the kind of tissue that normally lines the uterus grows somewhere else. It can grow on the ovaries, behind the uterus or on the bowels or bladder. Rarely, it grows in other parts of the body.”

The misplaced tissue can make women suffer pain, struggle with infertility and experience heavy periods. Most women will feel pain in their lower back, pelvic areas and abdomen, though it’s also possible women won’t experience any pain, the NLM explained. Very little is known about what causes the illness.

One of the first signs of the disorder, though, is struggling to get pregnant, according to NLM. This is because the tissue scratches on a woman’s eggs, which can prevent it from entering the fallopian tube.

Other signs of the disorder include short monthly menstrual cycles or the fact that a mother or sister had the same issue.

But as Ridley admitted in her Instagram post, “progress is being made” to help women who suffer from this issue avoid infertility. According to Resolve, the web platform for the National Infertility Association, surgical treatments often reduce the risk of infertility among women with the disorder.

Of course, surgery may not always be an answer.

“Surgery to remove or destroy endometriosis involving the ovaries may also reduce ovarian reserve and thus lower a woman’s chances for pregnancy,” according to Resolve.

This can also make it hard for women to give birth through in vitro fertilization, as women with low ovarian reserve tend to struggle with IVF, Resolve explained.

Resolve suggests those who have endometriosis visit their fertility doctors if they’re trying to conceive.

It may also be a good idea to check in with a fertility specialist if you’re not trying to conceive, as the specialist can prepare you for potential roadblocks ahead when handling the disorder.

Resolve also suggests that all women visit their physician to be tested for the disorder, as it’s something that may not be readily apparent but could have major consequences.

“In the 20th century, it was standard for all women with infertility to undergo laparoscopy to see if they had endometriosis,” according to Resolve. “Today, women with regular ovulatory cycles, patent fallopian tubes, normal ovarian reserve and a partner with a normal semen analysis are said to have unexplained infertility, though some of these women undoubtedly have endometriosis.”

Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.


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