Lena Dunham opened up about her painful battle with infertility, feeling betrayed by her body and accepting she will ‘never be a biological mother.’
While reflecting on having her cervix, uterus and an ovary removed due to chronic endometriosis in 2017, the actress admitted she became ‘obsessed’ with becoming a mother in her candid essay for the December issue of Harper’s Magazine.
‘The moment I lost my fertility I started searching for a baby,’ she began her article, noting, she was only 31-years-old when she underwent a total hysterectomy.
Speaking up: Lena Dunham has opened up about her painful battle with infertility, feeling betrayed by her body and accepting she will ‘never be a biological mother’ (seen in 2019)
Three years later, the Girls creator revealed she was exploring adoption when a doctor said she ‘might have a chance of harvesting eggs’ with her remaining ovary.
‘It turned out that after everything I’d been through—the chemical menopause, surgeries by the dozen, the carelessness of drug addiction—my one remaining ovary was still producing eggs,’ she recalled of her initial excitement.
If her eggs were successfully harvested, she explained to readers that they would ‘be fertilized with donor sperm and carried to term by a surrogate.’
Painful journey: While reflecting on having her cervix, uterus and an ovary removed due to chronic endometriosis in 2017, the actress admits she became ‘obsessed’ with becoming a mother in her candid essay for the December issue of Harper’s Magazine
Despite her then-boyfriend offering his sperm, she selected ‘an accomplished gay friend of child-rearing age’ and went to the fertility doctor with her father.
The process, however, did not work and Dunham recalled learning that none of her ‘eggs were viable on Memorial Day, in the midst of a global pandemic.’
‘I hadn’t been expecting the fertilization procedure to take place for another few weeks. My donor and I were still working on our agreement with a family lawyer,’ she noted of getting the devastating call.
‘The moment I lost my fertility I started searching for a baby,’ she wrote, noting, she was only 31-years-old when she underwent a total hysterectomy
At the same time, she was navigating three of her close friends becoming pregnant, leaving her to wonder about ‘how far you can drift from yourself in the process of trying to get what you want.’
What started as wanting to carry the child of the man I loved became wanting to have a child with a man who was willing to help me have one,’ the director admitted.
‘There is a lot you can correct in life—you can end a relationship, get sober, get serious, say sorry—but you can’t force the universe to give you a baby that your body has told you all along was an impossibility,’ she said.
‘It turned out that after everything I’d been through—the chemical menopause, surgeries by the dozen, the carelessness of drug addiction—my one remaining ovary was still producing eggs,’ she recalled of her initial excitement
What is infertility?
Infertility is when a couple cannot get pregnant despite having regular unprotected sex.
It affects one in seven couples in the UK – around 3.5 million people.
About 84 per cent of couples will conceive within a year if they have unprotected sex every two or three days.
Some will conceive quicker, and others later – people should visit their GP if they are concerned about their fertility.
Some treatments for infertility include medical treatment, surgery, or assisted conception, including IVF.
Infertility can affect men and women, and risk factors include age, obesity, smoking, alcohol, some sexually transmitted infections, and stress.
Fertility in both genders decreases with age – most rapidly in their 30s.
Throughout the essay, she also spoke of her sobriety and how getting treatment affected her pregnancy plans.
‘Rehab really puts the brakes on baby plans. To start with, it’s an awkward place from which to ask for adoption recommendations,’ she joked.
But on a more serious note, getting clean allowed her to see how ‘sick’ she really was.
‘The sight of pregnant women began to make me ill. Their bodies made me think of the stretch and tug of the false labor doctors had induced before my hysterectomy,’ she explained.
Now, Dunham explained she is rethinking ‘what motherhood will look’ for her and deciding IVF will no longer be her road to having a child.
‘IVF destroyed my body,’ she told People. ‘Because of what my body has been through, subjecting it to such excruciating pain, only to come to the end and learn those eggs were not viable after working so hard through illness and discomfort and going through anxiety and depression, it is just clearly not something I can ever repeat.”
The Golden Globe winner continued: ‘I had hopes it would, but to be honest, I’d already made my peace about becoming an adoptive mother.
‘When everyone got so excited about there being this possibility that my one ovary could produce eggs, and with IVF and surrogacy, I could maybe still have a biological child, it pulled me away from what I think I already instinctively knew,’ she reflected.
‘My turn on the IVF ride was wrapped up in self-hatred, addiction and fear of the unknown- who was I if not a mother?I’ she concluded on Instagram; seen last October
On Twitter, the daughter of a painter, Carroll Dunham also encouraged fans to read her piece, which she said she wrote for the ‘many women who have been failed by their own biology.’
She also noted how slammed ‘society’s inability to imagine another role for them outside of mother.’
Later, Lena further described her writing process and the online communities she fell into to process her grief, who were also ‘IVF Warriors.’
‘Fertility is a complex topic, one that’s easy to reduce to outdated biological urges and gender roles, baby announcement photos and girl on girl jealousy,’ she captioned an Instagram photo of herself in a hospital gown.