Bindi Irwin shares she had surgery for endometriosis: 'I battled for a long time wondering if I should share this journey'
Bindi Irwin is breaking her silence about her years-long struggle with endometriosis.
In an emotional Instagram post, the 24-year-old conservationist (and daughter of the late great "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin) shared with her 5.1 million followers that she had undergone surgery for the condition that affects more than 11% of American women between the ages of 15 and 44, according to the Office on Women's Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
"Dear Friends," she began the post, written alongside an image of her in a hospital bed. "I battled for a long time wondering if I should share this journey with you in such a public space. It came down to the responsibility I feel to share my story for other women who need help."
"For 10 [years] I’ve struggled with insurmountable fatigue, pain & nausea," she continued. "Trying to remain a positive person & hide the pain has been a very long road. These last 10 [years] have included many tests, doctors visits, scans, etc. A doctor told me it was simply something you deal with as a woman & I gave up entirely, trying to function through the pain."
According to the Mayo Clinic, endometriosis is a disorder in which "tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus." It most commonly involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining one's pelvis. Consequentially, the disorder can cause painful cramping during your period — and possibly during intercourse, urination and bowel movements.
Irwin admitted she never sought answers to help treat her pain until a friend "helped set me on a path of regaining my life." Ultimately, she said doctors found 37 lesions, some of which were "very deep and difficult to remove" as well as a chocolate cyst (a cyst that's filled with menstrual blood, which is common among those suffering with endometriosis).
"I decided to undergo surgery for endometriosis," she explained. "Going in for 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."
While in recovery, Irwin says her doctor asked her, "How did you live with this much pain?" For her, those words proved affirming in many ways.
"Validation for years of pain is indescribable," she continued. "My family & friends who have been on this journey with me for 10+ yrs — THANK YOU, for encouraging me to find answers when I thought I’d never climb out. Thank you to the doctors & nurses who believed my pain. I’m on the road to recovery & the gratitude I feel is overwhelming. To those questioning the cancelled plans, unanswered messages & absence - I had been pouring every ounce of the energy I had left into our daughter & family."
Irwin, who has a 1-year-old daughter, Grace, with husband Chandler Powell, hopes her story can help other women who are suffering in silence.
"Things may look fine on the outside looking in through the window of someone’s life, however, that is not always the case," she writes. "Please be gentle & pause before asking me (or any woman) when we’ll be having more children. After all that my body has gone through, I feel tremendously grateful that we have our gorgeous daughter. She feels like our family’s miracle."
"I’m aware of millions of women struggling with a similar story," she adds. "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. Keep searching for answers."
Irwin's post was welcomed with an array of support from her followers, many of whom applauded the young mom's bravery — including her husband, who called her "the strongest, toughest person I know."
"So glad you finally received the treatment you need and deserve," commented Top Chef host, Padma Lakshmi. "I know how hard it is. All the best in your recovery."
"Wishing you a speedy recovery Bindi, you incredible Braveheart," added Supernanny alum Jo Frost. "A reminder for all that it is okay to surrender and deal with issues head on, to not suffer in silence. Love to you my friend."
"As an endometriosis survivor and now long hauler I can 100% validate that living with an invisible illness is crushing," another wrote. "Thank you for being an advocate and I’m so glad you got answers and are on the road to recovery."
"Thank you for sharing your story," another added. "I’ve also struggled with endo and am pursuing an excision surgery. Thank you for shedding light on this issue that effects so many women."
Irwin is not the only celebrity who's used her experience to raise awareness about endometriosis.
In a Sept. 2021 Instagram post, comedian Amy Schumer opened up about her experience with endometriosis, during which she reassured women experiencing irregular aches and pains during their menstrual cycles to listen to their bodies and to advocate for themselves, even if there's little support around them.
"My pain is real. Your pain is real. We have to advocate for ourselves," she said at the time. "We have to speak up. And you know what? I'm worried this video is annoying, but I don't care, because I hope that it helps one woman go and find out why she's in so much pain."
In a September 2022 interview with the Observer, Lena Dunham opened up about her lengthy battle with the condition, describing it as being so severe that she had to have five operations to treat it.
At one point, she explained, she collapsed at the 2017 Met Gala, which led her to check herself into a hospital where she ultimately underwent a full hysterectomy.
“I struggled with this idea, that I had chosen my own health over being able to bear children," she reflected at the time. "But really it wasn’t a choice at all because the person I would have continued to be had I remained in that kind of pain would not have been a person I could really live as."
Singer/songwriter Halsey has also been open with her endometriosis story.
In an April 2022 Instagram post, just days before she was set to perform at the Grammy awards, Halsey urged fans to "be gentle" with her as she was still recovering from surgery to treat the condition (which she'd been suffering from as early as 2016).
"The last time I attended the Grammys was 2017 and it was three days after I had my first endometriosis surgery," the singer, who welcomed son Ender in 2021, shared. "I walked the carpet with my stitches still in. As luck would have it, I’m attending tomorrow for the first time in years and I had surgery again (you guessed it) three days ago. Only posting this to say, if you see me be gentle lol I’m fragile. Fragile but excited."
Sister, Sister star Tia Mowry reflected on her journey to become a mom after being diagnosed with endometriosis, sharing in an August 2022 Instagram post (which has since been deleted) that the condition disrupted her life with "fear" and a "sense of isolation."
"I've always been incredibly outspoken about my endometriosis diagnosis because I know the fear and sense of isolation all too well," she wrote alongside a series of throwback photos of herself pregnant as a mom of two — Cree, 12, and Cairo, 4 — with ex-husband Cory Hardrict.
"Looking back at these photos reminds me how fierce and faithful I had to be," she noted. "Thankfully, as women, each of us has the ability to draw on that and lean on each other. I do it all for my Cree and Cairo and would do it all over again for them, too."
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