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Lena Dunham’s powerful rallying cry for hysterectomy patients everywhere

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Kayleigh Dray
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Lena Dunham

“I surprised myself,” notes the Girls star. “I bet you can surprise yourself too.”

In 2017, Lena Dunham had a total hysterectomy after “years of complex surgeries measuring in the double digits” and countless unsuccessful attempts to manage her endometriosis symptoms using “pelvic floor therapy, massage therapy, pain therapy, colour therapy [and] acupuncture.”

Now, a year later, the Girls star has taken to Instagram to reflect on the anniversary of the important surgical procedure – and reflect on how her life has changed since then.

Sharing a side-by-side photo of herself before and after the procedure, Dunham notes: “I was smiling but my eyes say it all: full of anxiety and grief that I couldn’t locate through the layers of pain meds and benzos. Severe undiagnosed PTSD, feelings that my worth and purpose were being taken from me, angry and self-pitying with no sense of how I’d emerge.”

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Dunham also points out that her hair had fallen out in “odd clumps” and that she’d dyed her remaining tresses electric blue.

“Because if you’re gonna spiral, why not SPIRAL,” she jokes.

The second picture, which was taken earlier this week, tells a very different story. In it, we see a smiling and relaxed Dunham – one who, she shares, “happy, joyous and (substance) free.”

“The last year hasn’t been all roses and Kenny G songs, but it’s been proof enough for me in the presence of the divine,” she continues. “It’s been there in the kindness of my family, friends, chronically ill folks online. It’s also been there in the moments where I cried myself to sleep, shocked by the sounds coming out of me. It’s in the light slanting on my comforter, the resilience of my best friend’s baby clonking her head then giggling, the new hairs sprouting at my temples.”

Concluding her post with a tribute to her inner warrior, Dunham writes: “Mostly I’ve found [divinity] in my own strength, because who the f**k knew. And I don’t mean strength as in powering through. I mean strength as in vulnerability, feeling it all, taking it as it comes and dancing even with a hospital grade pad in my underwear.

“I surprised myself,” she adds. “I bet you can surprise yourself too.”

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.

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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.

Image: Getty

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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