Home and Away star Penny McNamee is speaking out.
In an interview with New Idea published on Monday, the Australian actress revealed her battle with endometriosis and struggles with fertility.
“I was taught from a very young age to be very discreet about my period and that it is a very embarrassing thing,” she said. “I feel now, at age 35, really angry that that’s the way it is. I’ve lost years of having children and suffered through years of pain, so now I’m forcing myself to talk about it.”
The Sydney-raised star told the publication she had suffered crippling pain for more than 20 years and had taken “an unhealthy amount of pain killers” as a result.
Endometriosis SUCKS, big time. 700,000 Australian women & girls have the disease & the government is finally doing something about it! 🌼💛🌼 Endo Warrior Women – you have 3 days to have your say on the National Action Plan for Endometriosis! 1. Click the link in my bio 2. Read the plan 3. Answer the questions. 🌙🍋⚡️ To all my lady friends, the biggest myth we are told is that period pain is normal. IT IS NOT! If you have pain, ask your doctor about endometriosis – you may save your body, your fertility and a whole lotta pain! #endoaustralia #nationalactionplanforendometriosis #endometriosis Thanks for the cute Tee, @endometriosisaustralia 🌻xx
As it turned out, she actually had endometriosis, a condition in which the tissue that usually lines the inside of the uterus grows outside the uterus. It can also affect fertility.
Penny learnt of her diagnosis after trying for a second child with husband Matt Tooker.
“We’ve been so blessed to have one beautiful little boy, but it did take a long time to conceive him and I really just got lucky,” she told New Idea.
“It was when we started trying for our second child that I went and got a whole lot of tests done.
“Even then, doctors can’t be sure you have this disease–they have to guess from your symptoms–and the only way to diagnose it is from surgery.”
The star underwent surgery this February and said she had been virtually pain-free since.
Penny, who plays doctor Tori Morgan on Home and Away, also took to Instagram on Tuesday to share her struggles with the condition that affects one in 10 Australian women.
“I am so frustrated that I have spent 20 years battling a disease I didn’t know I had, and have lost years trying for more children,” she posted.
“After a diagnosis and surgery in February, my quality of life has changed dramatically. So I am spreading this message.”