Lena Dunham Says She's 'Disease-Free' After Endometriosis Surgery
Lena Dunham has suffered from endometriosis for years, experiencing intense chronic pain as a result of the uterine condition, which involves tissue that should line the uterus growing elsewhere in the body. Now, for the first time in her adult life, Dunham says she's "disease-free," thanks to a successful surgery needed to treat exacerbated symptoms relating to one of her ovaries adhering to her pelvic floor.
Dunham wrote about the latest development in her health battle in her "Lenny Letter." Apparently, surgery became the best option after the 30 year old experienced an intense flareup of endometriosis symptoms last weekend, leaving her feeling "knees-buckling, back-aching, [and] dry-heaving-at-the idea-of-breakfast" pain.
In recent months, the "Girls" creator has been open about managing her endometriosis with nonsurgical options, including yoga, a new diet, and a "brief, passionate, and ultimately disastrous affair with vaginal valium." With the new bout of pain, however, Dunham knew that approach was no longer enough. She consequently checked into a Los Angeles hospital, where she underwent surgery to reposition her ovary. The surgery "went off without a hitch," leaving Dunham with a better prognosis than she had even thought to hope for: She is, for now, "disease-free."
"When I emerged, cotton-mouthed, [Dr. Randy Harris] told me something I hadn’t expected to hear, maybe ever: there was no endometriosis left. Between my surgeries and hormonal intervention, I was disease-free," she rejoiced. And while endometriosis does carry with it the possibility of recurrence, Dunham is readily anticipating living life in a healthy body for the time being. She writes, "Once my sutures have been removed and my bruises have changed from blue to yellow to green to gone, I will be healthy. All that will remain is my long-term relationship with pain, and it’s time to get real about that."
Dunham admits that having lived with a chronic illness for so long, she is slightly nervous to lose the routine built around it, acknowledging, "Illness defined a time in my life, the way babbling hysterical heartbreak defined the summer after college and eating insane amounts of Brie after 1 a.m. was the whole of 2010." Even so, Dunham is ready for her new chapter, hoping to use her additional energy to make endometriosis a more treatable condition for everyone. As she reflects, "My job is to educate people, to try to change the pathetic lack of resources for endometriosis, but it’s also to seize this gift."
The actress has been outspoken about managing the illness since going public with her condition in 2015, particularly working to lessen the shame that comes with being sick and needing to take time off to deal. She has also brought widespread awareness to the very existence of endometriosis, a condition that affects at least 6 to 10 percent of women of reproductive age in the U.S. according to the National Institutes of Health — though that number could be significantly higher, given the relative rarity with which the condition is successfully diagnosed.
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