Lena Dunham and Endometriosis: Expert Q&A

Lena Dunham and Endometriosis: Expert Q&A

By Kathleen Doheny
WebMD Health News

After Lena Dunham, 29, star and producer of HBO’s “Girls,” told fans on Monday she is taking time off to rest due to her endometriosis, many wondered: What is this condition, anyway?

Tamer Seckin, MD, a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist and co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America, addressed the most commonly asked questions.

WebMD: What is endometriosis?

Seckin: Endometriosis is a disease, a condition. It is a displacement of the internal uterine lining [endometrium] outside the uterus. It is characterized by painful periods with symptoms of heavy bleeding which very often coincide with gastrointestinal symptoms [such as diarrhea] during and around the menstrual period. There can be painful intercourse. It can cause painful bowel movements and appendicitis-like symptoms.

WebMD: How common is it?

Seckin: One of 10 women of reproductive age has it. There are so many cases that are undiagnosed.

WebMD: How bad is the pain?

Seckin: [There can be] severe pain with periods—debilitating, incapacitating pain, killer cramps, and women can be unable to work or go to school. Pain can last more than two or three days, with heavy periods, prolonged periods. There can be leg pain and back pain.

WebMD: What are the health effects?

Seckin: There is loss of quality of life, and reduced fertility and infertility. If you are stuck with pain one week every month, your quality of life is gone. Endometriosis has been linked with an increased risk of ovarian cancer, but the incidence is low.

WebMD: How is endometriosis treated?

Seckin: Medications [for pain] don’t remove the disease. Hormone treatment has side effects. Hormone treatment makes women gain weight. Removal of these lesions [with surgery] leads to the best recovery. (Lesions are areas where the uterine lining is growing outside the uterus.) Surgery requires incredible precision, laparoscopic excision surgery. You remove the lesions and you identify them completely. If you go in and remove 95% of the lesions and leave 5%, the patient’s uterus may be the same and they won’t be helped.

Hysterectomy, or removing a women’s uterus, is indicated when the endometriosis involves the uterus. However, a lot of times [the tissue is growing] outside the uterus.

WebMD: How does it vary in severity?

Seckin: In general the severity of the symptoms does correlate with the degree of the disease but there are exceptions. Particularly in young women, college girls and those in young womanhood, the lesions are early and it could be difficult to identify them. An experienced surgeon who knows how to identify the lesions is crucial.

WebMD: How is it diagnosed?

Seckin: There are stages of diagnosis. The ultimate diagnosis is only made by removing these lesions and putting them under the microscope. Another doctor sees them under the microscope and recognizes the disease. A definitive diagnosis is not limited to just removal but is subject to a pathologist who views the lesions].

WebMD: Is rest advised?

Seckin: Apparently when the pain is so incapacitating, I don’t see any other choice besides rest. Everyone deals with the pain differently.

 

Read More: http://blogs.webmd.com/webmd-interviews/2016/02/lena-dunham-and-endometriosis-expert-qa.html

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Reviews

  • Kim Molinaro

    Kim Molinaro

    Prior to meeting Dr. Seckin and reading his book, “The Doctor Will See You Now”, I knew little to nothing about endometriosis. I was led to believe that endometriosis was not a serious condition. I was told that the pain could be managed by taking the “pill”. I was told that the cysts on my ovaries were harmless. I was…

  • Rebecca Black

    Rebecca Black

    Fast forward 5 years to find out incidentally I had a failing kidney. My left kidney was only functioning at 18%. During this time, I was preparing all my documents to send to Dr. Seckin to review. However, with this new information I put everything on hold and went to a urologist. After a few months, no one could figure…

  • Monique Roberts

    Monique Roberts

    I'll never stop praising Dr. Seckin and his team. He literally gave me back my life.

  • Erin Brehm

    Erin Brehm

    I had a wonderful experience working with Dr. Seckin and his team before, during and after my surgery. I came to Dr. Seckin having already had laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis 5 years prior, with a different surgeon. My symptoms and pain had returned, making my life truly challenging and my menstrual cycle unbearable. Dr. Seckin was quick to validate my…

  • Anita Schillhorn

    Anita Schillhorn

    I came to Dr. Seckin after years of dealing with endometriosis and doctors who didn't fully understand the disease. He quickly ascertained what needed to be done, laid out the options along with his recommendation and gave me the time to make the right decision for me. My surgery went without a hitch and I'm healing very well. He and…