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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Patient Reviews

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  • Angela Aro

    I have struggled with endometriosis and adenomyosis since first starting my period at 13. I was diagnosed at 21 and what followed was a series of unsuccessful surgeries and treatments. My case was very aggressive and involved my urinary tract system and my intestines. After exhausting all of my local doctors I was lucky enough to find Dr. Seckin. We…

  • Emi O

    Seckin and Dr. Goldstein changed my life!

  • Kristin Sands

    Like so many women who have tirelessly sought a correct diagnosis and proper, thorough medical treatment for endometriosis, I found myself 26 years into this unwanted journey without clear answers or help from four previous gynecological doctors and two emergency laparoscopic surgeries. I desperately wanted to avoid the ER again; a CT scan for appendicitis also revealed a likely endometrioma…

  • Wilfredo Reyes

    Dr. Seckin literally gave my wife her life back. I am eternally grateful to him for his generous, determined spirit to see that Melanie finally live free from the prison bonds of Endometriosis.

  • Carla

    I am so grateful to Dr Seckin and Dr. Goldstein. My experience was nothing short of amazing. I was misdiagnosed with the location of my fibroids and have had a history of endometriosis. Dr. Seckin was the one who accurately diagnosed me. Dr Seckin and Dr. Goldstein really care about their patients and it shows. They listened to my concerns,…

  • Melissa Boudreau

    When I think of Dr. Seckin these are the words that come to mind. Gratitude, grateful, life-changing, a heart of gold. I feel compelled to give you a bit of background so you can understand the significance of this surgery for me. I am passionate about Endometriosis because it has affected me most of my life and I have a…

  • Jaclyn Harte

    Dr. Seckin and Dr. Goldstein radically changed my quality of life. They treat their patients with dignity & respect that I've personally never seen in the literally 25+ doctors I've seen for endometriosis. This summer, I had a surgery with Dr. Seckin & Goldstein. It was my first with them, but my 5th endo surgery. I couldn't believe the difference,…

  • Megan Rafael Moreno

    I was in pain for 2 years. I was getting no answers, and because dr Goldstein and dr seckins were willing to see and treat me I'm finally feeling almost back to normal. They were very down to earth and helpful in my time of need. Dr Goldstein was easy to talk to and caring, she took care of me…

  • Nancy Costa

    Dr. Seckin is one of the best endometriosis surgeon. Every time I go to the office, he really listens to me and is always concerned about my issues. Dr Seckin's office staff are a delight and they always work with me. I feel I can leave everything to them and they will take care of it. Thank you to the…

  • 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

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

  • 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

    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…

  • Nicholette Sadé

    Dr. Seckin brought me back to life! I am now 3 weeks into my recovery after my laparoscopy surgery, and I feel like a new and improved woman! Being diagnosed with Endometriosis, then 25yrs old in 2015, and discovering the severity of my case being stage 4, made me devastated. Dr. Seckin's vast knowledge of the disease, sincere empathy, and…