Writer and actress Lena Dunham has undergone major surgery in her fight against endometriosis.
Dunham, who wrote and starred in the hit series Girls, has been extremely vocal about her struggle with the condition which causes the lining of the womb to grow on the outside, creating painful internal blisters. Other symptoms include pelvic pain, back pain, fibromyalgia and the inability to conceive. While the chronic condition affects roughly one in 10 women, it is rarely discussed and can't be diagnosed without laparoscopic surgery.
The 31-year-old penned a moving essay for the March 2018 issue of Vogue that reveals her choice to have a total hysterectomy to remove her uterus and cervix, after "years of complex surgeries measuring into the double digits." Dunham goes on to explain that she explored every other avenue of treatment before making the life-changing decision.
"In addition to endometrial disease, 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."
In 2017, Lena left the Met Gala early after she was rushed to the hospital for severe pain. At the time, she believed her last surgery a month prior had beaten the disease.
"To be honest," she said, "I'm in the greatest amount of physical pain that I have ever experienced. After being told I was endometriosis-free after my last procedure, more disease was found in deeper spots that required immediate surgery and now physical therapy."
An avid campaigner of women's rights, Dunham has often courted controversy with comments she has made in the past. However, she has received praise for her honest detailing of a disease that plagues the lives of millions of women, and of which little is medically known. As for having children, Lena has great plans for the future.
"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."