fbpx After Her Endometriosis Diagnosis, Olivia Culpo Opens Up About Fertility

Endometriosis - Symptoms and Treatment | November 21, 2022, 5:00 CST

Olivia Culpo Opens Up About Her Endometriosis

The former Miss Universe shares infertility fears during her new TV show.
A black and white photo of Olivia Culpo is layered on a collage of different colored circles and an orange background.
Illustration by Jaelen Brock

Olivia Culpo, a model and former Miss USA and Miss Universe, is concerned about her ability to have kids in the aftermath of her endometriosis surgery.

In a sneak peek of the Nov. 21 episode of "The Culpo Sisters" on TLC, the 30-year-old confessed to her sisters, "I want to have kids, but I want to make sure that I can.

"It could be really hard for me to have babies because of my surgery, because of my eggs, because of endometriosis," she added.

This isn't the first time Culpo has opened up about her endometriosis, a painful condition that impacts an estimated 1 in 10 American women. The model first revealed she had the disorder in August 2020 in an Instagram story.

"I've never publicly said this before but I have endometriosis," she wrote. "Aka the most excruciatingly painful cramps/periods. Anyone else reading this have Endo? No fun."

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus—the endometrium—grows on other areas of the body where it doesn't belong. Endometriosis is often found on pelvic organs such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes, as well as the surface of the uterus, bladder or lining of the pelvic cavity.

Unlike cells in the uterus that leave the body during a period, endometrium-like tissue in other areas of the body has no exit route. This interloping tissue undergoes the same cyclical buildup and breakdown in response to circulating hormones, generating debris in parts of the body that are not equipped to handle it. Broken-down tissue is trapped in the pelvic cavity, where it can cause irritation, scar tissue formation and pain, particularly with menstrual bleeding or sex.

Besides causing chronic pain, inflammation and discomfort, endometriosis has been linked to difficulties with becoming pregnant. An estimated 30 percent to 50 percent of women with endometriosis may experience infertility.

Further research is needed to fully understand the connection, but in many instances, the fallopian tubes may become obstructed by scar tissue, blocking the eggs from reaching the uterus. Endometriosis can also cause inflammation that hinders the movements of the egg or sperm, preventing fertilization.

Treatments for endometriosis

As Culpo explained in the episode preview, there is no cure for endometriosis. "You have it forever. You live with it," she said.

While Culpo is correct that there is no cure, there are treatment options for reducing pain and infertility. Endometriosis treatments include low-dose oral contraceptives, which can reduce the pain during menstruation, as well as long-acting progesterone medication or gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, which suppress the growth of endometriosis by blocking estrogen.

Another possible treatment for endometriosis pain is surgery, which Culpo herself received in November 2020. Surgical intervention can help overcome endometriosis complications by removing excess tissue growth and abnormal scar tissue in the pelvic region. In some cases, surgery can help improve fertility by removing endometrial tissue so a person can conceive naturally.

Hormonal medications usually follow surgery to shrink any remaining endometriosis and prevent new growth. Surgery is often repeated if further treatment is needed. If the condition doesn't improve, doctors may recommend a hysterectomy—removal of the uterus—though this is typically considered a last-resort treatment.

Endometriosis often goes undiagnosed

Despite being fairly common, endometriosis often goes undetected for years because the abdominal pain associated with the condition is mistaken for menstrual cramps. The severity of symptoms varies from person to person, and some people may experience no symptoms at all.

In a previous Instagram post about her experience with endometriosis, Culpo acknowledged the frustration of having a painful condition dismissed or misdiagnosed.

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

Culpo closed the post with words of encouragement: "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 !!!!"