Lena Dunham has talked about her endometriosis for as long as she’s been famous. She’s been open about her endo-related struggles, the pain she’s dealt with, her crazy-long periods, and the multiple surgeries she’s had to try to fix or provide some kind of relief. Well, Lena has announced in the March issue of Vogue that she underwent a total hysterectomy to put an end to all of it.
Lena Dunham recently underwent a total hysterectomy to remove her uterus and cervix, in the hopes of ending her crippling endometriosis-related pain. The actress, 31, writes in the March issue of Vogue that she opted for a total hysterectomy after “years of complex surgeries measuring in the double digits” and attempts at “pelvic floor therapy, massage therapy, pain therapy, color therapy, acupuncture,” to manage her endometriosis were unsuccessful.
During her hysterectomy, doctors discovered that Dunham had other medical issues that were causing her pain.
“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,” she writes. “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.”
Dunham had thought that she was finally “disease-free” in April 2017, after her fifth surgery in a year to move her ovaries away from her rectal wall. She announced the happy news in her Lenny newsletter, but was hospitalized just a month later during the Met Gala, and had to cancel her planned Lenny IRL tour. “I’m in the greatest amount of physical pain that I have ever experienced,” she said in May.
Though she now cannot carry a child, Dunham, who recently split from boyfriend Jack Antonoff after five years together, says she now wants to explore her options for having children, from using any remaining eggs for a surrogate to adoption.
“I may have felt choiceless before, but I know I have choices now,” she says. “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.”
In some way, I’m happy for her that she made a proactive choice for her health and her ability to manage pain. She genuinely struggled throughout her teenage years and through her adult life to find a way to manage endometriosis, and now she gets to experience a full life past that. It will be a whole new world for her. This was major surgery too – I wonder when she had it done? She was out in LA during Golden Globes week, quietly attending a few events. I wonder if she had it done around the same time she and Jack finally split for good? Also: of course she could still find a way to become a mother, through adoption or surrogacy or a gestational carrier. But I don’t know – should that be her highest priority right now? Just take a few years to find some kind of new balance in your life.
Photos courtesy of WENN, Backgrid.