Why Lena Dunham Had a Hysterectomy at Just 31

The young writer/actor/director will no longer be able to have biological children due to the removal of her uterus.

Lena Dunham smiling in hat. She just had a hysterectomy.photo credit: instagram/lenadunham

And she’s not the only celebrity who has had the procedure

Ever since Angelina Jolie penned an op-ed in the New York Times explaining her decision to have a double mastectomy (and subsequently, a hysterectomy and fallopian tube removal), celebrities have been more open about their health struggles and decisions.

Whether it’s to spread awareness or just get ahead of the story before the press takes hold, it’s become common to read firsthand accounts of personal issues in magazines and newspapers —which is why it wasn’t a surprise to see Lena Dunham’s name come up in Vogue’s March issue.

The actress and activist wrote an essay explaining her decision to have a hysterectomy at 31. For those who have followed Dunham’s health struggles, you know that she’s been battling endometriosis since her early 20s. Because of the disease, she’s been forced to cancel events, has spent countless nights in a hospital bed and has undergone nine surgeries to try and ease the pain.

Finally, she’d had enough.

Describing her uterus as “defective,” Dunham said the pain became unbearable last August. She had tons of tests which showed no definitive reason for the increase in pain: no cysts, no free fluid, no baby. Before making the decision to remove an organ, Dunham explains that she tried everything. She went to pelvic-floor therapy, massage therapy, pain therapy, colour therapy, acupuncture, yoga — even resorting to vaginal massage.

Nothing would ease her pain — except morphine. (Which she says is obviously not a long-term solution.)

In the end, Dunham opted for an invasive surgery that would prevent her from ever being able to carry a child. Post-surgery, her doctors confirm what she always knew was true: her uterus really was defective. In fact, they say it was worse than “anyone could have imagined.”

Dunham says she’s healed well, but is still mourning her loss.

You can learn more about hysterectomies and endometriosis here.

Read more: A Pretty Little Liars star opens up about the women’s health condition that caused her to gain 71 pounds.