Endometriosis: I want my womb removed like Lena Dunham

Actress Lena Dunham and Sofie (right) Image copyright Getty Images / Sofie Hartley

Sofie is 27 and has been suffering with endometriosis since she was a teenager.

Now she's told Newsbeat she wants a total hysterectomy - an operation to remove her womb - to help ease the symptoms of her condition.

Lena Dunham - who's suffered with endometriosis for years - revealed this week she'd had the operation.

Endometriosis is a condition which affects one in 10 women and can cause chronic pain, heavy periods, painful sex and depression.

"It's pain and discomfort, especially around the time of your period," Sofie explains.

"Back pain, migraines and fatigue - also depression and anxiety.

"It's the absolute fear of being out with friends and family - and not having sanitary towels, spare underwear or pain medication.

"That's why you'll find lots of people with endometriosis tend to cancel lots of plans and activities with friends."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lena Dunham says she feels she has choices now she's had a hysterectomy

Like Lena Dunham, Sofie says she wants to have a hysterectomy so she can take back control of her body - and her life.

She has a six-year-old son Jacob who she says "is "absolutely amazing" but she says being able to have him was "a huge journey".

Like many women with endometriosis, Sofie struggled to conceive and has had three miscarriages.

"I never wanted more than one child anyway, especially when the symptoms and the side effects of my endometriosis got worse.

"I had to ask myself what was more important - having more children or being healthy and being there for my son.

"If a hysterectomy takes away potentially some of the burden of my bad health, to me it's worth doing that, to be happy and healthy for my son."

Image copyright Sofie Hartley
Image caption Sofie says having her son Jacob was 'a journey'

At the moment, Sofie gets a monthly hormonal injection which she says is helping to ease her symptoms.

She describes them as "absolutely horrific" and says the side effects are "intense".

"I hope that one day I will be able to have a hysterectomy."

What is a hysterectomy and can it help treat endometriosis?

There's currently no cure for endometriosis but there are treatments that can help ease the symptoms.

They include taking painkillers, hormone medicines and contraceptives and surgery to cut away patches of endometriosis tissue.

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the womb (uterus) and it can help ease the symptoms of endometriosis.

Image copyright Endometriosis UK
Image caption This diagram shows how endometriosis builds up around the fallopian tubes and ovaries

During a hysterectomy, the womb is removed and the patient may also have her cervix or ovaries removed, depending on her personal circumstances.

"A hysterectomy does not cure all symptoms of endometriosis and certainly is not a cure for the whole disease," consultant gynaecologist Sanjay Vyas tells Newsbeat.

He says the procedure "may be part of the surgical treatment, but that needs to be tailored for individual women.

"They may need more complex treatment."

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