Irwin, the daughter of the late Australian zookeeper Steve Irwin, shared a photo of herself in a hospital bed to Instagram on Tuesday. She wrote that she was initially unsure whether or not to speak about her endometriosis journey publicly, but said she felt a “responsibility” to share her story with other women who may share the condition.
Endometriosis is a painful disorder in which uterine-like tissue, called the endometrium, grows outside of the uterus and forms lesions. The condition can cause painful periods, pain during sex, bloating and infertility, among other symptoms.
Irwin, 24, said her symptoms, including “insurmountable” fatigue, pain and nausea, have impacted her for 10 years and made it difficult to “remain a positive person.”
Irwin said she had been seeking medical advice for her condition but was told by one doctor “it was simply something you deal with as a woman.”
“I gave up entirely, trying to function through the pain,” she wrote.
It was only once a friend encouraged Irwin to continue seeking medical help, that she decided to undergo surgery for endometriosis.
“Going in for surgery was scary but I knew I couldn’t live like I was,” she continued. “Every part of my life was getting torn apart because of the pain.”
Irwin said her doctors discovered 37 lesions, “some very deep & difficult to remove.” They also removed a “chocolate cyst,” a commonly used term for an ovarian cyst filled with blood.
After the procedure, one doctor reportedly asked Irwin, “How did you live with this much pain?”
Now, Irwin said she feels “indescribable” validation for years of pain.
“Thank you to the doctors & nurses who believed in my pain. I’m on the road to recovery & the gratitude I feel is overwhelming,” she wrote.
Irwin said she has been pouring her energy into her nearly two-year-old daughter Grace, who she called a “miracle,” and her family.
“Things may look fine on the outside looking in through the window of someone’s life, however, that is not always the case. Please be gentle & pause before asking me (or any woman) when we’ll be having more children,” Irwin concluded.
“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.”
Approximately one in 10 women will develop endometriosis, according to the Canadian Endometriosis Network. The cause of the condition is not known.
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