In March 2020, fashion designer, TV presenter and style muse Alexa Chung revealed she was suffering from endometriosis, a condition which is notoriously difficult to diagnose, with symptoms including extremely painful periods, as well as pelvic pain and difficulty becoming pregnant.
Now, Alexa's spoken in more detail about her complex journey to receiving the diagnosis and how, frighteningly, ovarian cancer had to be ruled out first.
People with endometriosis typically have to wait a long time to get a firm diagnosis, with research putting the average time frame at 7.5 years. As you might expect from a shocking figure like this, Alexa's path to reaching her diagnosis wasn't straightforward. For years, she put the sporadic pain she was experiencing down as being a normal part of periods. She also had a kidney scan because of lower back pain and a suspected haemorrhagic cyst.
It was when she was in LA filming the Netflix competition series Next In Fashion with Queer Eye star Tan France, that Alexa finally received her endometriosis diagnosis after a cancer scare, she told The Sunday Times.
“I had to go back on set and Tan asked how my doctor’s appointment went. I was like: ‘It might be ovarian cancer!’" Alexa recalled in the interview, adding that the circumstances of her appointment were difficult.
"The other bummer was that the waiting room for this scan was also a waiting room for pregnant people," Alexa said.
"Everyone was in there with their partners, and this woman was like: ‘Excuse me, ma’am? Ma’am? On your form, you didn’t fill out your partner’s name'. And I was, like: ‘Yeah, I don’t have one. Thanks for that. I might have cancer, I don’t have a baby and I don’t have a boyfriend. Stunning. But let me just go and entertain you for a bit on f***ing TV.’”
When her symptoms were at their worst, Alexa was in so much pain she had to take meetings lying down, but it sounds like after ruling out ovarian cancer and receiving her correct diagnosis, her health is much better now.
“It was bad. But I’m fine now. I think," she said.
Alexa isn't the only celebrity to detail their experience with endometriosis recently. Last month, Molly-Mae Hague opened up to followers about going through the illness.
"I actually have got to have an operation for something that I want to tell you guys about. It's kind of a good thing and it's kind of a bad thing," Molly-Mae told her followers.
"I've told you guys for so long now that I suffer with excruciating periods and so many of you guys were commenting on my videos like: 'Please check for endometriosis,'" she added.
After being told she categorically didn't have the illness, Molly-Mae sought a second opinion from a specialist who told her it was "clear as day" that her symptoms were because of endometriosis.
"It's not a good thing that I have endometriosis, because obviously it can affect fertility, it can affect loads of things, and you can never actually really cure endometriosis," she said.
"I wanna be that mature girl that can just walk into the doctors and they say: 'We've gotta take a blood test' and I'm like: 'Yeah no worries'. I wanna be that mature, cool girl that nothing phases, but I just wasn't born that way. That isn't me, that's not the way I was created, and that's just the way it is."
With more awareness around endometriosis desperately needed, it's so positive that Alexa, like Molly-Mae, feels comfortable enough to share her experience and hopefully help others.
For more information about endometriosis, visit the NHS' website.
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