(NEW YORK) — Bindi Irwin shared a major health update with the world on Tuesday, saying she recently underwent surgery for endometriosis.
“Dear Friends, I battled for a long time wondering if I should share this journey with you in such a public space,” she wrote in a lengthy Instagram caption alongside a photo of her in a hospital bed. “It came down to the responsibility I feel to share my story for other women who need help.”
Irwin, 24, said she has “struggled with insurmountable fatigue, pain & nausea” for the last 10 years, attempting to “remain a positive person & hide the pain.”
The Dancing with the Stars alum said a doctor told her “it was simply something you deal with as a woman,” which caused her to give up “entirely, trying to function through pain.” Irwin said that her friend, Leslie Mosier, helped her navigate endometriosis, which helped set her on a “path of regaining my life.”
Irwin ultimately decided to undergo surgery because she said she “couldn’t live like I was.”
“Every part of my life was getting torn apart because of the pain,” she said. “To cut a long story short, they found 37 lesions, some very deep and difficult to remove, and a chocolate cyst.”
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), endometriosis occurs in about 1 out of 10 women of reproductive age and is a condition in which the type of tissue that forms the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) is found outside the uterus.
Even though that tissue is outside of the uterus, it can still respond to hormones during the menstrual cycle, causing irritation, bleeding, pain and scarring. That scarring can also lead to infertility, health expert said.
There isn’t a cure for endometriosis, but there are treatments for pain and infertility, according to ACOG. Treatments include hormone therapy like birth control pills, pain medications and surgery.
The TV personality said she now feels “validation for years of pain” and thanked her family and friends who have been by her side as she battled endometriosis over the years. She also thanked her doctors and nurses.
Irwin’s post comes during National Endometriosis Awareness month, a time to raise awareness about the gynecological disease. As the mother to 2-year-old Grace Warrior Irwin Powell, whom she shares with her husband, Chandler Powell, Irwin ended her post by putting a spotlight on endometriosis and reaching out to women who are also dealing with the disease.
“Things may look fine on the outside looking in through the window of someone’s life, however, that is not always the case,” Irwin said. “Please be gentle & pause before asking me (or any woman) when we’ll be having more children. After all that my body has gone through, I feel tremendously grateful that we have our gorgeous daughter. She feels like our family’s miracle”
“I’m aware of millions of women struggling with a similar story,” she added. “There’s stigma around this awful disease. I’m sharing my story for anyone who reads this & is quietly dealing with pain & no answers. Let this be your validation that your pain is real & you deserve help. Keep searching for answers.”
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