Several weeks ago, Bindi Irwin, wildlife conservationist, TV personality and daughter of the late Steve Irwin, revealed she has been struggling with severe endometriosis since she was 14.
For the past 10 years, she has suffered extreme fatigue, nausea and insurmountable pain which up until then, the world knew nothing about. It was also a disease that nearly cost Bindi her miracle baby.
Bindi turned to social media on International Women’s Day to share her story with her 5 million Instagram followers. Her heartfelt post describes her long journey searching for answers from doctors who told her it was a “women’s disease”.
“We tried and tried and tried for years and years and years. And finally, a doctor said to me, ‘This is just part of being a woman’,” Bindi shared.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a painful disease where endometrial-like tissue, similar to the tissue normally found lining the uterus, is found in other parts of the body. Like the endometrial tissue lining the uterus, this extra tissue responds to hormones released by the ovaries, causing bleeding, inflammation, scar tissue and painful lesions.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, endometriosis affects one in 10 women. This means around 190 million women around the world are battling this awful disease that isn’t only a physical burden but a deeply mental one as well.
Symptoms of endometriosis include:
- painful and heavy periods
- digestive complaints
- pain during sexual intercourse
- chronic pelvic pain
- pain during bowel movements or urination
- abdominal bloating
Many women suffering from endometriosis also have to battle:
The invisible pain of endometriosis
Bindi’s story reveals that not everything is as it appears on the surface. Someone’s life may seem free of pain, struggles and fear, but according to Bindi, it’s not always the case. “Every part of my life was getting torn apart because of the pain,” she recalled.
She revealed that her health struggle would often leave her curled up in a foetal position with extreme fatigue and pain. It would attack her suddenly, without a moment’s notice, anytime, anywhere.
Bindi was previously misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome , chronic fatigue syndrome and finally just told to accept her pain as a part of life. It speaks of Bindi’s resilience that she was able to live in the spotlight with a demanding schedule and regular international travel, while battling such a debilitating disease.
Millions of women around the world share a similar story. Sadly many only get recognition and answers once their disease has progressed to an advanced stage, often resulting in infertility and in extreme cases, early hysterectomy.
Bindi’s 10-year struggle made her feel like giving up entirely. She was told she just had to learn to function through the pain and live with it. The usually energetic and positive person began to be replaced by an exhausted and drained woman just trying to get through the day.
Describing the desperate time in her life, Bindi shares, “I gave up, and I stopped looking for answers. I stopped trying to find help.”
Grace, Bindi Irwin’s miracle baby
In 2021, on their first wedding anniversary, Bindi and her husband Chandler Powell delivered a healthy and beautiful baby girl, Grace Warrior Irwin Powell. Grace has been affectionally termed by Bindi as their “family’s miracle”.
Endometriosis can make it very difficult for a woman to fall pregnant and up to 50 per cent of women experience infertility because of the disease. It’s probably why Grace was Bindi’s miracle baby.
In the video below, Heba Shaheed talks about how endometriosis can impact on a woman’s fertility.
Grace also compelled Bindi to continue her search for answers to her mysterious health problems as trying to function as a mum of a toddler while battling extreme pain was impossible and unrealistic.
In March, after suffering for the past decade, Bindi underwent major surgery in the United States at the Seckin Endometriosis Center. She had 37 lesions and an additional growth described as a chocolate cyst, removed.
For Bindi, the decade-long battle against this awful disease may be finally taking a turn for the better. In a recent Instagram post, she told how she feels this surgery has given her a “second chance at life”. In the same post, she officially reported she is feeling much better and is living pain-free for the first time in a long time.
However, she sent the world a tender reminder by adding: “Please be gentle and 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.”
Bindi’s journey to motherhood was an incredible miracle, one that hasn’t been without many tears and much pain. Bindi’s story is an inspiration to many women facing endometriosis, as it shows that it is possible to overcome the disease and have a healthy pregnancy.
Bindi and Grace are now able to better enjoy their time together, with Bindi saying she’ll be able to run around and play more with Grace.
Fight for your health
The normally private Bindi decided to share her journey as she felt a sense of responsibility for other women who are silently struggling against the stigma and lack of answers associated with endometriosis.
She also shared her deep gratitude for her mother Terri Irwin, brother Robert Irwin, husband Chandler and Chandler’s family for their constant support and love during her long road of pain, diagnosis and surgery. She added that the kind words she received from everyone online have deeply encouraged her.
“Let this be your validation that your pain is real and you deserve help. Keep searching for answers,” she encouraged in her Instagram video.
If you or a loved one is struggling with endometriosis, don’t suffer in silence. Reach out. Ask for help. Fight for your health. You deserve it.
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