Endometriosis is fucked.
It’s a condition where the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium) grows in places it shouldn’t, like the fallopian tubes, ovaries or along the pelvis. When this lining breaks down once a month, it has nowhere to go – resulting in debilitating pain. In severe cases, it can lead to infertility.
In Australia alone, it affects as many as 1 in 10 women.
Lena Dunham has been open about her battle with the illness since 2015, when she penned an emotional op ed about it in her newsletter Lenny.
The illness has been merciless; it left her hospitalised after the Met Gala due to complications and she was forced to cancel her Lenny Letter tour shortly thereafter.
But now, the Girls creator has revealed in the March 2018 issue of Vogue that she has undergone a hysterectomy to remove her uterus and cervix; an extreme measure to stop what must be extreme pain.
The essay details her difficult decision after “years of complex surgeries measuring in the double digits” and unsuccessful attempts to treat the painful disorder with “pelvic floor therapy, massage therapy, pain therapy, colour therapy [and] acupuncture.”
“In addition to endometrial disease,” the 31-year-old shares, “an odd hump-like protrusion and a septum running down the middle, I have retrograde bleeding, a.k.a. my period running in reverse so that my stomach is full of blood.”
“My ovary has settled in on the muscles around the sacral nerves in my back that allow us to walk. Let’s please not even talk about my uterine lining. The only beautiful detail is that the organ—which is meant to be shaped like a light bulb—was shaped like a heart.”
Of course, by removing the uterus and cervix from her body, Dunham would now be considered infertile. Despite this, her future plans do include having children of her own.
“I may have felt choiceless before, but I know I have choices now,” she writes. “Soon I’ll start exploring whether my ovaries, which remain someplace inside me in that vast cavern of organs and scar tissue, have eggs. Adoption is a thrilling truth I’ll pursue with all my might.”
We wish her – and all women dealing with this invisible illness – a speedy recovery.