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

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  • Winnie Chan

    I’ve seen many obgyns over the years explaining my monthly symptoms during my period...but eventually it became a daily struggle with these pain. It feels like a poke here and there near my right pelvic region. I was given birth control pills for the past ten years but honestly, it didn’t help at all. I was in bed whenever I…

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    Dr.Seckin is so much more than a surgeon. His passion for helping endometriosis sufferers and determination to improve the quality of life in all of his patients is undeniable. I remember when my gynecologist first told me I needed a laparoscopy. Her exact words were "I can do the surgery, but if you were MY daughter- I'd send you to…

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    I was there for hysterectomy but then I found out that I also had endometriosis.My both surgeries went excellent and I feel great!.I am so thankful to Dr.Seckin and all his team for making my journey smooth!

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    I am a physician who suffered from deep infiltrative endometriosis. I needed laparoscopic surgery, so I went to see my former gynaecologist and he performed the procedure (a surgery which he supposedly does hundreds of times a year) last November. I had severe pain again when I had my period in January and was advised to go on taking a…

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    After years of excessively painful periods, a serious loss of quality of life, and a series of uninformed and uninterested doctors, Dr. Seckin and Dr. Goldstein turned my life around. I was told I woke up from my surgery almost a year ago with a smile on my face, and I haven't stopped since. Before I heard of Dr. Seckin,…

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    Dr Seckin and his team gave me back my life! Tomorrow will be 1 month since my surgery and I feel great. Dr. Seckin, Dr Liu, and Dr Goldstein are not only beyond words talented and amazing Doctors, but they are also genuinely wonderful and caring people. I cannot say enough great things about Holly, Asiye and Kim as well.…

  • Anna Lu

    Dr. Seckin and his staff spared me from years and years of heavy periods and unbearable endometriosis pain. After having surgery with him (my first) I can now function like a regular human. No more eating NSAIDs like candy and calling out sick from work. Thank you, Dr. Seckin!