Lena Dunham is thanking her supporters who offered her words of empathy as she recovers from her hysterectomy, saying that while her heart is broken, they are now "linked forever."
The creator and star of the HBO series Girls revealed in Vogue's March 2018 issue that late last year, she underwent a total hysterectomy to remove her uterus and cervix after a decade of battling endometriosis, as well as pain and complications from the reproductive system disease.
"Your body failing you is a loss that's hard to explain and yet the amount of messages I've gotten from women in a similar predicament has been so overwhelming, loving and heartening," Dunham wrote on Instagram on Friday, alongside a photo of her dressed in activewear and sitting on a hospital bed. "More than 60 million women in America are living with hysterectomies and those of you who've shared your plight and perseverance make me feel so honored to be in your company. Thank you to the village of women who took care of me through this entire process."
"I have a broken heart and I hear those don't mend overnight," she continued. "But we are linked forever by this experience and our refusal to let it hold any of us back from even the grandest dreams."
Dunham's hysterectomy, which left her ovaries intact, marks her ninth surgery to treat her endometriosis, characterized by mostly abnormal tissue that grows outside the uterus. Last year, Dunham posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed after she had undergone her fifth procedure.
She told Vogue that in August, her "pain becomes unbearable" and that she attempted to treat it with "pelvic-floor therapy, massage therapy, pain therapy, color therapy, acupuncture, yoga, and a brief yet horrifying foray into vaginal massage from a stranger." She said in November, she checked herself into a hospital and demanded doctors stop her pain or remove her uterus.
She said her doctor needed "evidence he's operating on someone resolved enough to give consent and never take it back," so she wrote a "1,000-word essay on why, given the circumstances, I'm sure I can handle losing my uterus before I turn 32." She also said she then talked to a therapist, who suggested she undergo three more sessions to get at any "deep-seated ambivalence."
Dunham said six days later, she underwent a dilation and curettage—a uterine procedure to clear large amounts of abnormal tissue—in "a final attempt to quell the pain" without removing her uterus, but that it did not go as expected.
Dunham said after she underwent her hysterectomy, it wave revealed that "in addition to endometrial disease, an odd humplike protrusion, and a septum running down the middle, I have had retrograde bleeding, a.k.a. my period running in reverse, so that my stomach is full of blood," adding, "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."
Dunham hopes to have children one day. She said she plans on finding out soon whether she has eggs in her remaining ovaries and also added that "adoption is a thrilling truth I'll pursue with all my might."