Bindi Irwin, daughter of the late Australian wildlife presenter Steve Irwin, has revealed her decade-long struggle with endometriosis in an emotional social media post.
Irwin, 24, said she has suffered “insurmountable fatigue, pain and nausea” and has recently undergone surgery to ease her symptoms.
Alongside a photo of her in a hospital bed, the Australian TV personality and wildlife expert wrote on Instagram that after many tests, scans and doctor visits, one medic told Irwin her symptoms were “simply something you deal with as a woman”.
“I gave up entirely, trying to function through the pain,” she wrote.
Irwin decided to have surgery after a friend’s recommendation. “Surgery was scary but I knew I couldn’t live like I was. Every part of my life was getting torn apart because of the pain,” she told her 5.1 million followers.
She said doctors found 37 lesions and a chocolate cyst – an ovarian cyst filled with menstrual blood.
“I’m on the road to recovery and the gratitude I feel is overwhelming,” she continued.
“I’m aware of millions of women struggling with a similar story. There’s stigma around this awful disease.
“I’m sharing my story for anyone who reads this and is quietly dealing with pain and no answers. Let this be your validation that your pain is real and you deserve help.”
Endometriosis is a long-term condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other parts of the body, such as the fallopian tubes and ovaries.There is no known cure but treatment can ease symptoms.
It affects around one in ten women and girls of reproductive age, the World Health Organisation says. Endometriosis UK estimates that 1.5 million women are affected by the condition in the UK.
Can endometriosis be treated?
- There is no cure for endometriosis and it can be difficult to manage. But there are some treatments that can help women alleviate their symptoms.
- Pain medication – over the counter anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen may be the first port of call to relieve pain.
- Hormone treatment – some women may be prescribed either the combined oral contraceptive pill or progestogens which include the contraceptive injection, contraceptive implant, the progestogen-only pill and the intrauterine system. These treatments limit oestrogen, which can shrink endometriosis tissue in the body.
- Surgery – some women may undergo a laparoscopy or a hysterectomy to remove or destroy areas of endometriosis tissue.
It can cause intense pain during periods and sex, as well as pelvic pain, abdominal pain, fatigue and nausea, as well as affecting fertility.
Irwin’s revelation comes as scientists launched a clinical trial for what could be the first new treatment for endometriosis in four decades.
Researchers from the universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Birmingham are testing whether the drug dichloroacetate can help manage pain for those with the condition.
If successful, the drug could be the first non-hormonal and non-surgical treatment for endometriosis.