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Everything You Need To Know About Endometriosis

Pascale Day
by Pascale Day Published on 10 March 2016

Girls creator and queen of our hearts Lena Dunham underwent emergency surgery for a ruptured ovarian cyst recently. It turns out she'd been suffering from a severe case of endometriosis in the lead up to her operation. So what is endometriosis and how can it be treated?

Lena Dunham has had a hard time with her health as of recently. She had to pull out of the promotional tour for the latest series of Girls due to her endometriosis. She has been vocal about her ongoing troubles with the condition and detailed her struggle on Instagram:

[Caption: "Hey Beloved Pals, I just wanted to let you know that, while I am so excited for Girls to return on Feb 21, I won't be out and about doing press for the new season. As many of you know I have endometriosis, a chronic condition that affects approximately 1 in 10 women's reproductive health. I am currently going through a rough patch with the illness and my body (along with my amazing doctors) let me know, in no uncertain terms, that it's time to rest. That's a hard thing to do, but I'm trying, because all I want is to make season 6 of Girls the best one yet. I'm lucky enough to have support and backup from Jenni, Judd and the whole Girls gang. So many women with this disease literally don't have the option of time off and I won't take it for granted.
Wishing you all health & happiness, in whatever form suits you. Back soon xxLena"]

She also went into detail in an interview with Jane Fonda for Paper Magazine about the fact that she might not be able to conceive children:

"I've always wanted to be a mother as long as I've been on this earth, it's something that has been important to me. I've said to my boyfriend [Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff], 'If fertility ends up being a challenge for me, I'm not gonna be the person who spends six years in IVF' because while I'm really intrigued by the possibility of carrying a child in my body, and I don't judge anyone else's choices, for me, years and years of hormones and body manipulation wouldn't work for my psychology and my body.​

"It's not important enough to me that my child come out of my body and it's not important to me, really at all, that the child belonged to Jack and me on a genetic level. It's important to me that we have the right child for us and take the right kind of care of them."

On Saturday it was reported that she had been admitted to hospital for an emergency operation after a cyst on her ovary had ruptured. Lena has since updated her Twitter and Instagram saying that she is now out of hospital and recovering - phew! But what is endometriosis, and can it be cured? Here's five quick fire facts that you need to know about the condition.

[Caption: "Thank you all so much for the support over the last few weeks. I cannot even begin to express how much good your generosity has done for my body/soul. I've met so many amazing sisters (and bros!) in arms through what some might label my "over-sharing" and it has healed me in a multitude of ways. And, to add to my good fortune, TOMORROW I get to bring you more @girlshbo at 10:00pm on HBO. In this pic I was headed to the gynecologist feeling decidedly unglamorous when I passed a bus bearing our poster. Remind you of a certain iconic credits sequence? CC @sarahjessicaparker... I'm mending nicely and it's all your fault ❤️ love you like whoa, grateful too--
Lena"
]

What is ​endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition that affects women in which cells that normally line your womb grows outside of it instead. The cells act as they would if growing inside the womb - swelling up, breaking down, then bleeding like a menstrual cycle - but because it happens outside the uterus there is no way for the blood to leave the body, so it becomes trapped. The condition can also cause cysts to develop on the ovaries, and the scar tissue left by these cysts can abnormally connect organs together.

What are the symptoms?

Not all women who have the condition experience symptoms, but the classic signs of endometriosis include painful, heavy or irregular periods, pain during or after sex, infertility, painful bowel movements and fatigue.

Can endometriosis be treated?

In more extreme cases like Lena's, surgery can be needed to treat endometriosis. However, for more manageable cases, an over-the-counter pain reliever would be subscribed, or a prescription of hormone supplements.

What does a diagnosis involve?

A diagnosis for endometriosis may take some time. Scans, blood tests and internal examinations are not a conclusive way to diagnose endometriosis because if all of these tests come back normal, it doesn't mean that you don't have endometriosis. Get it?!

​The only definitive way to diagnose endometriosis is with a laparoscopy, which is an operation that involves a camera being inserted into the pelvis via a small cut made near your navel The camera will look for signs of endometriosis, and if detected, it can be treated or removed for further examination during the laparoscopy.

Do any other celebs have this condition?

Yeah they do - 10% of women in the world have the condition, which is around 176 million women worldwide. Other celebrities that have been open with their struggle with endometriosis include Julianne Hough, Whoopi Goldberg and Susan Sarandon.

You can find out more about endometriosis here.

Are you sending Lena good vibes? Let us know! @sofeminineUK​

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by Pascale Day