Health

This Pop Star's Selfie Pulls Back the Curtain on a Secret Health Struggle Many Women Face

June 9th 2017

By:
Tiernan Hebron

"Singer-songwriter Halsey, who rose to fame after collaborating with The Chainsmokers on their smash hit, "Closer," just took to Instagram to talk about a serious health issue that often gets overlooked. The "Now or Never" singer posted a selfie in which she was wearing a heating pad.

"Making heating pads sexy since 2014," she wrote. "As many of you guys know, I live with #endometriosis. It can be really hard. Sometimes I feel like I can barely stand. But on nights like tonight, I slap on a heating pad and take some medicine and go hustle it out.’

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Endometriosis is a disease in which the endometrium, the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus, grows outside of the uterus. The tissue breaks down and bleeds as it normally would during menstruation, however because it is displaced it has no way to exit the body and becomes trapped, causing abnormally painful periods, adhesions, scarring, pain during sex, and even infertility.

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Halsey’s received hundreds of responses from other women thanking her for talking openly about her struggles with the painful affliction, and for raising awareness about a disease that some don't even think exists.

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One in 10 women in the United States—and 176 million women worldwide—are afflicted with the disease, yet 40 percent of women report that they had to see a doctor at least 10 times before getting diagnosed. "Studies show that doctors, regardless of gender, tend to under treat female patients and take longer to administer medication to women,” said Dr. Jennifer Wider, a women's health expert.

Even for a disease as painful and debilitating as endometriosis it takes an average of 10 years to get a diagnosis. Why? Because pain associated with periods is underestimated and under-treated by the medical profession, as a whole, leaving millions of women to suffer for years without finding relief.

Posts like Halsey's help to raise awareness and lessen the stigma surrounding endometriosis, period pain, and women’s pain in general. When celebrities come forward with personal experiences like this, it creates a space in which more people feel safe to come forward as well.

This isn’t the first time the singer has opened up about her battle with the disease, either. In January, she posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed, about to go in for surgery.

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"Girls" star Lena Dunham has also been upfront about her struggles with endometriosis. She has been candid about her various treatments and surgeries, and even had to cancel her Lenny Letter Tour because she was in too much pain. "My body, which I’ve worked through all kinds of pain for many years, just doesn't’t have what it takes to do this tour."