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Girl Smarts This actress posted a photo of her pregnant-looking belly — But she wasn't pregnant at all

Parenthood star Monica Potter surprised fans on Wednesday when she posted a photo on Instagram of her bloated stomach at what appeared to be the doctor’s office.

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This actress posted a photo of her pregnant-looking belly — But she wasn't pregnant at all play

This actress posted a photo of her pregnant-looking belly — But she wasn't pregnant at all

(womenshealthmag)

Monica Potter was actually trying to raise awareness about an important health issue.

Parenthood star Monica Potter surprised fans on Wednesday when she posted a photo on Instagram of her bloated stomach at what appeared to be the doctor’s office.

“I have something to share… ,” she captioned the shot, prompting many people to assume she’s pregnant. But in a followup Instagram post the next day, Monica made it clear that she’s not pregnant—she’s suffering from colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the inner lining  the colon.

“Thank you to everyone who has sent me well wishes. I’m not pregnant but wanted to shed some light on some issues we all may deal with, especially women,” she captioned the Instagram video. “It’s never really talked about because it’s not sexy, pretty, our glamorous to say the least, so I decided to share a photo to possibly inspire my friends (you), create a platform to share stories, and rely on each other for support and guidance.”

Monica said that she’s struggled with colitis for two years and her flareups are “painful and frustrating.” In the video, she got super real about how colitis impacts her life, including the fact that she’s had to wear adult diapers sometimes while driving her daughter to school, just in case she has an accident. “That’s not glamorous,” she added.

Symptoms of colitis usually develop over time and the condition can be debilitating and even lead to life-threatening complications, per the Mayo Clinic. There is no known cure, but treatment can reduce the signs and symptoms of the disease. (Kick-start your new, healthy routine with Women's Health's 12-Week Total-Body Transformation!)

Like many illnesses, colitis can range in severity but symptoms can include diarrhea that often comes with blood or pus, abdominal pain and cramping, rectal pain, rectal bleeding, and urgency to go No.2, an inability to go despite feeling like you need to, weight loss, fatigue, and fever.

Find out what you MUST do the next time you go to the doctor:

Doctors aren’t totally sure why people develop colitis, but the Mayo Clinic says that it could be the result of a person’s immune system malfunctioning and attacking the cells in their digestive tract, or just plain genetics (if you have a family history of the condition, you’re more likely to develop it).

Colitis can cause severe bleeding, a perforated colon, dehydration, osteoporosis, skin and joint inflammation, and an increased risk of blood clots, so it's not something that you want to mess with.

If you suspect that you have colitis, or you just know something is off with your digestive system, call your doctor. Also, don’t forget to get a regular physical, even if you’re not having symptoms. “I want to stress the importance of getting regular check-ups with your gastroenterologist or family physician,” Monica said on Instagram. It can make a huge difference in your overall health.

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