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.”
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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.”