(CNN) Australian ecologist Bindi Irwin revealed on Wednesday that she underwent surgery for endometriosis after a decade-long battle with the disease which affects the uterus.
“For 10 years I struggled with insurmountable fatigue, pain and nausea,” Irwin explained in social media posts next to an image of her in a hospital bed.
“A doctor told me it was just something you have to deal with as a woman and I gave up completely, trying to function through the pain.”
Irwin’s posts coincided with International Women’s Day and Endometriosis Awareness Month.
Endometriosis is “a condition in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus,” according to the US National Institutes of Health.
Symptoms can include pelvic pain, heavy bleeding during periods, and fertility issues.
Irwin, 24, said doctors found 37 lesions, some of which were “very deep and difficult to remove”, but she was now “on the road to recovery”.
“I am sharing my story for anyone reading this who is quietly dealing with pain and unanswered. May this be your validation that your pain is real and that you deserve help,” a- she added.
Anyone with a uterus of childbearing age can suffer from the disease, but it is more common in women in their 30s and 40s. About one in 10 people born with a uterus have endometriosis, according to the World Health Organization. The disease affects approximately 190 million women and girls worldwide.
Irwin is a famous conservationist who starred in “Crikey! It’s the Irwins,” a reality TV show that chronicles her family’s work at Australia Zoo in Queensland, which her mother owns.
She won ‘Dancing With the Stars’ in 2015 and comes from a family of conservationists that includes her father Steve, the late ‘Crocodile Hunter’ who was killed by a stingray while filming in the barrier. Gerat coral reef in 2006.
She gave birth to a daughter, Grace, in March 2021.
“Please be kind and pause before you ask me (or any woman) when we have more kids,” Irwin wrote in his post Wednesday. “After everything my body has been through, I am so grateful to have our beautiful daughter. She looks like the miracle of our family.”
Shortly after her posts, her family took to social media to share their support.
Her husband, Chandler Powell, said: “Seeing how you overcame pain to care for our family and continue our conservation work while absolutely riddled with endometriosis is something that will inspire me forever.”
Irwin’s brother, Robert, added on Instagram, “You never know who is suffering in silence, let’s make it something we all talk about freely.”
Irwin is the latest in a string of celebrities to speak out about their struggles with endometriosis.
In a Paramount Plus docuseries released last year, comedian Amy Schumer opened up about her decades-long battle with what she called a “lonely disease.” Schumer had her uterus removed in 2021 and shared a video on her Instagram after the operation.
Comedian Lena Dunham and actress Padma Lakshmi also spoke about their experiences with the disease.