Lena Dunham is a staunch supporter of women’s rights and health. While the Trump administration is planning to defund Planned Parenthood, Lena wants to talk about the importance of birth control and why it’s more than just a form of contraception. She explained some of the types of birth control she has used, and which one she now uses to battle her endometriosis. The actress argued that having access to birth control is important for all women in the latest issue of Lenny Letter.
The Girls star shared her story with experimenting with various forms of birth control as someone who struggles with endometriosis. Endometriosis is a health disorder that causes the tissue lining to grow outside of the uterus, according to the Mayo Clinic. The condition can cause excessive bleeding, chronic fatigue, bloating, painful cramps, and possible infertility. The 30-year-old shared that she uses the birth control pill to help deal with the common symptoms.
“I’ve been on the birth-control pill on and off for almost fifteen years. It’s the only thing that can control my endometriosis pain, and it’s made my skin clearer, my moods more even, and my life altogether finer.”
Lena noticed something was wrong when she wasn’t on the pill. That’s when she was diagnosed with endometriosis while in college. Lena also recalled the time when she tried a contraceptive sponge and her weekend plans with her boyfriend didn’t go as anticipated.
“I’d go off it when I broke up with someone or just felt restless,” Dunham said. “During one of those pill-less periods, I decided I was going to use the contraceptive sponge, newly back on the market. I was visiting a boyfriend and taking an eleven-hour Greyhound bus to get there. I was so excited to have sex and so intent on making it seamless and romantic that I inserted the sponge in the bathroom of the moving bus five hours before we arrived.”
“By the time I got to him I had insane burning, and my distress was palpable. The rest of the weekend was a wash.”
Dunham doesn’t just use the birth control pill to help manage her endometriosis. She also relies on food expert Jessica Murnane, reports MindBodyGreen. Murnane is known for her plant-based diet and her podcast, One Part Podcast. Her new book, One Part Plant Simple Eating includes a feature introduction by Dunham.
Like Lena, Jessica was diagnosed with endometriosis after she suffered from chronic pain and was sent to the emergency room. She has finally battled it thanks to her new diet and lifestyle. Jessica noticed she had the symptoms of endometriosis, which include painful sex, diarrhea, and incontinence. She wasn’t diagnosed until later on in her 20s.
“When I was 28, one of my cysts burst. The pain was so intense, and I went to the emergency room and they thought it was appendicitis. Once they ruled that out they were essentially like, well, we don’t know what that is; we don’t know how to help you.”
“The ER doctor that was there suggested I have a follow-up and that woman, the follow-up doctor, finally said she thought I had endometriosis,” Murnane said. “I had emergency surgery and they found cysts the size of oranges that had been growing since my first period.”
Jessica reached out to Lena when she read the writer’s story about her endometriosis. Then, Lena said she would contribute more to Jessica’s book in some way. The actress had to drop out because her endometriosis cleared up. So, Lena contributed by offering to write the introduction. Lena also gave Jessica, and many young women, an important less about paying attention to your body’s cues.
“And she said yes, and two or three months later, she ended up writing the foreword for the book. She definitely was sending me food she was eating and I think from what she said, she noticed what foods were her triggers. The thing is — it’s your choice. Once you know your triggers, at least you know what they are, and the choice becomes a conscious one.”
Dunham has documented her own battle with endometriosis on social media. She has posted photos of herself in the hospital and proudly wearing a bikini. Dunham first opened up about her struggle with endometriosis in the eighth edition of her newsletter Lenny Letter.
She feels much better after being hospitalized for the condition last year.
“I feel great. I feel really alive,” Lena told People at the 8th annual Blossom Ball organized by the Endometriosis Foundation of America in April, 2016.
[Featured Image by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Human Rights Campaign]