Actress, writer, producer, and director, Lena Dunham, has openly talked about her struggle with endometriosis for many years. After multiple attempts to treat the condition, she reveals in the March 2018 issue of Vogue that at 31 she decided to undergo a total hysterectomy.
In the story, Dunham writes beautifully about the heart-breaking choice she was faced with: Excruciating, seemingly-incurable pain caused by endomitriosis, or the surgery, which involved removing her entire uterus and cervix and will leave her unable to fall pregnant. Her ovaries remain in-tact, and Dunham writes that in the future she will explore whether they have eggs.
“From August to November I try desperately to manage this new level of pain,” Dunham writes. In addition to trying eight surgical procedures over the lifetime of her illness, she also tried pelvic-floor therapy, massage therapy, pain therapy, color therapy, acupuncture, yoga, and “a brief yet horrifying foray into vaginal massage from a stranger.”
Endometriosis is a condition that impacts one out of 10 women of reproductive age. It occurs when the tissue (called the endometrium) that lines the uterus also grows in other parts of the body, such as a woman’s ovaries, intestinal lining, and fallopian tubes. When a woman with endometriosis gets her period, these tissues also bleed, which can be extremely painful and lead to serious issues with fertility. Symptoms of endometriosis include severe pelvic pain, pain during sex, lower-back pain, bloating, constipation, and fatigue.
The choice to undergo a total hysterectomy is rarely an easy one, particularly for young women, but after multiple surgeries and treatments did nothing to improve the condition, she decided a hysterectomy was the only way forward. Dunham is vocal about wanting a family, and says she will approach options like adoption “with all my might.”