Huda Kattan on How Endometriosis Affects Her Mind and Body

SELF – Men’s and Women Health & Fitness

SELF: How are you managing the condition now?
Kattan:
I ended up putting in an intrauterine device (IUD) which helps with the hormonal balance, and the pain has tremendously improved. I’d say it’s about 60 percent better, which is amazing. I still am in pain, but it’s not as bad as it was before.

My periods are kind of crazy—three weeks at a time instead of one week—so it’s definitely challenging from that perspective. I also have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and maybe that makes it worse. I do so much research and still don’t have answers.

Right now, I’m at a place where I don’t feel as debilitated. However, it definitely gets more challenging year after year.

SELF: How has endometriosis affected your relationships?
Kattan:
I’ll be honest, it’s a little bit hard for me and my husband. I’m not going to lie. We have a very intimate life, and we’re not as intimate as we used to be sometimes, because of endometriosis. I’m in a lot of pain most of the time, so it’s challenging.

SELF: Do you feel it has impacted your mental health?
Kattan:
I don’t know. We’re so busy, I don’t know if I have time to think about my mental health. I don’t think so, because it is what it is. What can I do? I mean, it sucks. I had a feeling something serious was wrong for a very long time, so knowing I had something that wasn’t cancer, to be honest, was a bit relieving.

The thing that I think bothers me about endometriosis is that there’s not much information. That’s the most annoying part.

SELF: Do the pressures of being an entrepreneur affect your health?
Kattan:
I think it’s twofold: The first is being an entrepreneur, and secondly, also being a social media personality. Being an entrepreneur and not being public is one thing, but being a public person, we’re under so much scrutiny all the time and that can cause stress as well, even if you don’t think it does. I mean, both of them independently are stressful, never mind having both those roles at the same time.

SELF: Endometriosis often has an impact on fertility. Has that been a concern for you?
Kattan:
Yes. My husband and I have been married for 11 years. I was able to get pregnant and we were lucky to have one child, Nour Giselle, who is 8. There were a couple of times when I was pregnant pretty early but couldn’t carry the baby for long. Fertility is a huge issue. At some point, surrogacy might be an option to consider. We didn’t know what to do for a long time and last year when I found out I had endo, we talked about it pretty heavily. We’ve not actually decided whether we’re going to go the in-vitro route or not.

SELF: What’s the biggest lesson endometriosis has taught you?
Kattan:
I learned that maybe I was putting too much pressure on myself. I love pressure, I love stress and moving fast. But a lot of times you’re not necessarily paying attention to what it’s doing to your body, even if you are in tune with yourself. You think you like it, but you don’t realize you’re running on adrenaline every day, and that’s not healthy for your body. It definitely made me question the way I was working, and this year I’ve taken it so much easier. Before, I never used to say no to anything. Now the first thing I think about is, is that going to stress me out, and what is the return on investment? And I say no to a majority of things now. It’s made me rethink how I live my life and I’m trying to take it easier. Instead of traveling twice or three times a month, I’m not even traveling on a monthly basis. I hadn’t taken any personal vacations last year except for one, but now I’m looking at my daughter’s calendar and planning ahead of time.

SELF: Why was it important for you to be open about having endometriosis?
Kattan:
I’ve always been an open book with everything I do. It’s not always comfortable talking about some things, like not being able to have more children or how painful it can be during intercourse. But I wish I had heard someone talk about having endometriosis when I was younger. I don’t think it was public or well-known enough at the time. So, I feel I should talk about it. It will become more important if we all talk about it.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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