“For 10 years, I suffered from insurmountable fatigue, pain, and nausea,” Irwin, 24, wrote. “A doctor told me it was just something you deal with as a woman and I gave in completely, trying to work through the pain.”
The Washington Post reported in December that a number of studies support the claim that women who experience pain are often not taken as seriously as men. Studies show that getting rid of a woman’s pain can affect the treatment of a wide range of health problems, including heart problemsAnd ApoplexyAnd chronic diseases And Endometrialthe report indicated.
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Irwin said she debated whether to speak publicly about her experience but felt she owed it to other women struggling to get help.
“I am sharing my story for anyone reading this who is calmly dealing with pain and no answers. Let this be your assurance that your pain is real and that you deserve help.”
With the support of her friends and family, Irwin said, she finally found a diagnosis and had surgery. She said doctors found 37 wounds, some of which were “very deep and difficult to remove,” but that she is now recovering.
Irwin’s post coincides with Endometriosis Awareness Month. The disease affects nearly 10 percent of women and girls of childbearing age globally, or 190 million people, according to Global Health Organization.
“The validation of years of pain is indescribable,” Irwin wrote.
Endometriosis develops when tissue resembling the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, usually around the genitals, intestines, and bladder. The tissues cause a chronic inflammatory reaction that may cause scarring and lesions, according to the World Health Organization.
The World Health Organization says symptoms can include severe pelvic pain, fatigue, painful periods, urination, bloating, nausea and depression. The disease can also cause infertility.
“The variable and widespread symptoms of endometriosis mean that healthcare workers cannot easily diagnose it,” says WHO, describing the disease as “complex” and calling for more awareness.
There is no specific cause for the disease, and experts usually treat symptoms with medication or surgery.
“This is endometriosis”: life with chronic disease
In her Twitter post, Irwin also urged people not to ask women about their plans for children. “Please be nice and pause before asking me (or any woman) when we are going to have more babies,” she wrote. “After all that my body has been through, I am so grateful that we have our amazing daughter.”
She gave birth to Irwin Grace Warrior in March 2021. She is married to Chandler Powell, a professional skier and conservationist — who on Tuesday paid tribute to Irwin on Instagram, calling her his “inspiration.”
“Seeing how you push through pain to care for our family and continue our conservation work while completely suffering from endometriosis is something that will forever inspire me,” Powell wrote.
While Irwin occasionally appeared on television as a young girl alongside her father during documentaries, public interest in Irwin rose after her father was killed by a stingray while filming on the Great Barrier Reef in 2006.
Lindsey Beaver contributed to this report.
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