On Wednesday, 31-year-old actress and writer Lena Dunham revealed in an essay in the March issue of Vogue that she had had a hysterectomy.
In endometriosis, the tissue that normally lines the uterus escapes and attaches to other organs, which can cause scarring, heavy periods, and severe or even debilitating pain.
There is no cure for endometriosis, but you can treat symptoms with hormonal birth control pills, pain medication, and pelvic floor therapy.
There are surgeries to treat endometriosis, such as laparoscopic excision or ablation, but these are often done to remove abnormal tissue while conserving the reproductive organs.
Hysterectomies — which remove the entire uterus — do not cure endometriosis and the pain can still come back.
And because a hysterectomy makes it impossible to conceive without a surrogate, it isn't an option for many women who want to have children.
"I encourage people who have endometriosis to do their research and always get a second opinion about their treatment options," Huang says.
While Dunham's decision to get a hysterectomy might have been an unusual one, it did highlight an important point: Endometriosis can be incredibly painful and frustrating.
Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age — so if you have it, know that you aren't alone.
Caroline Kee is a health reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Caroline Kee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.