STRICTLY Come Dancing star Amy Dowden will open up about her experiences living with Crohn's disease in a new documentary.

The professional dancer, from Caerphilly, has lived with the condition all her life and has needed frequent hospital treatment.

She hopes by sharing her experiences with the public, she can help raise awareness about Crohn's, an incurable illness that affects the digestive system.

“Although thousands of people in the UK suffer from Crohn’s and colitis, they are conditions that the general public don’t know too much about and medical professionals are still learning about," Ms Dowden said.


"I was quite nervous to share my story and I think some viewers who know me from Strictly will be quite shocked by how much Crohn’s can affect me, but I think it’s really important for people to understand what Crohn’s means and what sufferers have to go through.”

Crohn's causes inflammation of the digestive system, leading to stomach aches and cramps, bowel problems, fatigue, and weight loss.

The exact cause of the illness is unknown and people with Crohn's can suffer painful, unpredictable flare-ups.

The new film, titled Strictly Amy: Crohn's and Me, charts Ms Dowden's attempts to find out why she is afflicted with Crohn's and why the condition is so difficult to diagnose.

Stress can also cause the illness to flare up, and the documentary follows Ms Dowden as she prepared for an extremely busy year, with a Strictly tour, national solo tour, and a wedding to plan.

What followed was one of Ms Dowden's worst flare-ups as performing took its toll on her – capped by the stresses of lockdown scuppering her solo show and wedding plans.

While recuperating and coping with her own health issues, Ms Dowden was determined to talk to others in similar situations to herself.

She meets a group of women at a body confidence workshop who want to challenge the way people with stoma bags are seen.

She also meets former England rugby union captain Lewis Moody, who was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2005; and speaks with Strictly judge Shirley Ballas, whose nephew has Crohn's.

“In making this film I have met some truly inspiring people who haven’t let their conditions affect them, and also learned so much more about the disease," Ms Dowden said.

"No one likes to talk about their bowels or digestive system but hopefully by normalising the conversation we can improve our understanding of this illness.

"Crohn’s remains a chronic illness for which there is currently no cure, but I hope this film gives people the confidence to talk about these issue, believe that they can overcome their health obstacles and achieve their dreams.”

Ms Dowden's documentary, Strictly Amy: Crohn's and Me, will be broadcast on BBC One Wales on Thursday, October 15, 9pm.