Endometriosis affects at least 6.3 million women and girls in the U.S. and millions more worldwide, but not many people know what it is.
Even those who have it don't always know they do. Many suffer from the chronic, painful disease for years before being formally diagnosed.
The illness gets its name from the tissue lining the uterus, called the endometrium. Sometimes that tissue grows instead on the ligaments that support the the uterus, as well as on the ovaries and fallopian tubes. When the tissue grows in these places, it can cause extreme pain during menstruation and sexual intercourse, as well as other chronic symptoms.
The caption reads:
"At 15, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. One laparoscopy, many consultations and 8 years down the line, pain was back (more mild this time!) and my skin was THE WORST. 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. I can safely say feeling so self-conscious has left my confidence in tatters. I hate wearing makeup but I currently don't want to leave the house without it on. HOWEVER PROGRESS IS BEING MADE! (With some help from a dermatologist and cutting out dairy (waah, except for spontaneous ice creams) and cutting down sugar (bigger waah but gotta do what you've gotta do)). Finally. Finally. (Throughout all this I've only had people being wonderful and encouraging and occasionally making me realise I'm being ridiculous and there's more to life)... 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. From your head to the tips of your toes we only have one body, let us all make sure ours [are] working in tip-top condition, and take help if it's needed."
Ridley concluded the post with five lighthearted and extra-long hashtags, including "#wasthispostlongenough" and "#thisisaclaymaskincaseyourewondering."
Though she balanced a heartfelt admission with a healthy dose of humor, Ridley's call for self-care is nonetheless serious — especially when it comes to endometriosis.
Because the disease's cause is still unknown, many women don't know they have it — and consequently, can't begin treating it — until they undergo a laparoscopy, a minor surgical procedure.