Lena Dunham has always been willing to talk about her struggles with endometriosis, in order to raise awareness about the chronic and debilitating women’s health condition.
And, in a new episode of her Women of the Hour podcast, the Girls star was speaking directly from the emergency room of an American hospital (having asked her podcast producer to accompany her) in a bid to better show the painful impact the condition can have on sufferers.
“This is my fourth time in the last three and a half months being in the Lennox Hill Emergency Room,” she tells listeners.
“Third time for ovarian troubles: once was a broken radial head elbow fracture caused by tripping over a flip flop. But this is my fourth time and I spend a lot of time in this emergency room.”
Explaining why she was in hospital this time, the 30-year-old says she had been bothered by what she had believed to be a urinary tract infection for about a week.
However, despite taking a series of antibiotics, the pain in her pelvis had grown slowly and steadily over time and eventually become unbearable.
“I’ve been hurting more and more. I started antibiotics, didn’t do anything, and the pain in my back and my pelvis has become overwhelming and so I’m here to figure out if I have an ovarian cyst or some other kind of ovarian issue that’s causing the continuous pain that is draining me of my life force.”
Dunham’s producer then asks the actor and writer to guess what treatment she might receive at the emergency room.
Speaking from experience, Dunham replies: “A vaginal ultrasound is what I’m going to get.”
She adds: “If they’re feeling nice to me, they’ll help me a little with my pain.”
Dunham goes on to reveal that she has been given morphine in the past in a bid to help her deal with the pain: “It takes your pain and pushes it away from your body.
“The pain’s gone, and it’s not replaced with lack of pain, it’s replaced with lack of giving a shit about anything.”
However taking such a strong pain relief drug does not come without side effects; the last time Dunham was administered a dose of morphine, she went on to experience withdrawal symptoms – such as shaking, sweating, and crying – once she left the hospital, and says of the experience, “I felt like I’d done something terribly wrong just by wanting to feel better.”
This is not the first time the actress has detailed her pain and health issues, having previously shown her endometriosis scars in a bikini selfie on Instagram.
“When the Target swimsuit does a bitch right, Endo scars & all,” she wrote.
Dunham also opened up about endometriosis in an essay on her email newsletter, Lenny Letter.
“From the first time I got my period, it didn't feel right,” she described. “The stomach aches began quickly and were more severe than the mild-irritant cramps seemed to be for the blonde women in pink-hued Midol commercials.”
Endometriosis is “the name given to the condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb (uterus) are found elsewhere in the body,” explains Endometriosis UK.
“Each month these cells react in the same way to those in the womb, building up and then breaking down and bleeding. Unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape.”
The condition can cause painful and/or heavy periods, as well as fatigue, bowel issues, bladder problems, depression and infertility.
Around 1.5 million women in the UK are currently living with the condition. Endometriosis can affect all women and girls of a childbearing age, and can have a significant impact on their life in a number or ways.
However, with the right endometriosis treatment, many of these issues can be addressed, and the symptoms of endometriosis made more manageable.
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