TV

Home and Away's Penny McNamee opens up about her battle with endometriosis

'It's so tough!"

By: Maddison Hockey

For a long time, Home And Away star Penny McNamee suffered in silence.

But the actress recently decided to open up about her battle with endometriosis and the need for greater awareness.

"Because women are speaking up about it more – both young and old – a lot more women are being diagnosed and treated," Penny, 35, tells TV WEEK.

On average, one in 10 women suffer from the chronic condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of it.

That can lead to severe pain and infertility. A diagnosis is often delayed due to symptoms being downplayed.

Penny says that needs to change.

"Until the past few years, I think period pain has been seen as normal," she explains. "It's not until awareness has started to grow that doctors are potentially seeing bad period pain as abnormal or sinister."

"Women are speaking up about endometriosis alot more" says Penny.

Penny decided it was time to speak out about the disease in the hope of opening a greater dialogue.

"Women are starting to talk to each other more about it," she says.

"I think it's then useful to chat with the men in their lives about the pain levels and how crippling that pain can be."

The actress and mother-of-one stresses that greater public awareness will also help break down stereotypes.

"So, if you call in sick, need to lie down for an hour or need time off for surgery, there's no stigma attached to it," she says.

Penny has also relished the chance to open a dialogue on a related issue through her character Tori in Home And Away.

With the departure of her on-screen love interest Ash (George Mason), Tori's desire for a baby has led her to look into fertility treatments.

"It's great we're doing an IVF storyline, because I've had so many friends who have gone through it," Penny says.

"I've even looked into it myself. It's great that Tori is empowering herself to go and make life happen."

Penny with husband Matt.

As for her own family, Penny reveals another baby is part of future plans with her husband, Matt Tooker.

"In time, we'd love to," she says.

"Matt is one of three and I'm one of five, so we'd love to have a few kids."

To read more from our interview with Penny McNamee, pick up a copy of this week's issue of TV WEEK. On sale now!