Culumi Nakada wrote a blog post last May, titled “Every Girl Should Read This. I Beg You”, which included a photo of her swollen stomach in an effort to raise awareness about endometriosis and ovarian cysts.
The 25-year-old model, actress, and DJ from Japan had noticed the symptoms first appeared during an acupuncture session when someone pointed out her big stomach.
“I was already self-conscious. I even went to the gym, but my stomach wasn’t going down,” Nakada told BuzzFeed News. “I’m such a fatty. I spoke to those around me as if to make fun of myself. Maybe I had eaten too much during the New Year festivities.”
At first, she thought she had gastroptosis, but was told to immediately to see a gynecologist.
“My periods were irregular, so I’d been seeing a gynecologist since I was in high school,” said Nakada. “However, I had never had an ultrasound. I figured I needed to go get checked properly.”
It turned out that her ovaries swelled up to 13 centimeters (5 inches).
Nakada urged women to get checked out regularly to avoid her situation, she wrote in her blog post, which has received hundreds of comments praising her bravery and openness.
Some people with a similar condition have even shared their experience.
“I am hospitalized for the same illness right now. Surgery is very scary and I am worried,” one reader wrote.
“I also suffered from the same illness and I was operated on in November last year. It was large with 9×11×7-centimeter tumor, but it was able to be safely removed with laparoscopic surgery that lasted three and a half hours. It was discovered in a cervical cancer screening and it was an experience that made me realize the importance of regular medical examinations,” another commented.
Throughout her experience, Nakada has learned that there is not enough discussion about the variety of issues women have with their ovaries.
“It’s such a common disease that 1 in 10 girls will experience it,” she explained. “If you have 30 friends, 3 of them may have the same issue.”
Nakada was released from the hospital five days after undergoing a successful surgery and it won’t affect her ability to get pregnant.
“People often talk about what age they want to have children by. But that conversation is based on the assumption that you can have children,” she said. “Even though pregnancy is no simple matter, you may never be aware of that fact if you live your life ‘normally.’ That’s what I realized.”
Through her story, she encourages women to take care of their physical health, just as they would with beauty.
“Girls are often said to buy cosmetics and beauty products in order to look cute, right? However, beauty means nothing without health,” Nakada said. “They’ll go to a beauty salon, but they won’t go for a comprehensive medical checkup. Even though they are the same price.”