Lena Dunham is shedding light on a little-known medical condition just by posting a photo on Instagram.
On Wednesday, the actress and writer revealed that she has a “perpetually spasming bladder,” along with a photo showing her popping a pill that (we assume) helps treat it.
“Can all my ladies with the perpetually spasming bladders say HEY-O (‘HEY-O’),” she wrote.
The condition that causes spasming bladders, though unnamed by Dunham, is likely interstitial cystitis, or IC. IC is a painful condition that affects 700,000 Americans, most of them women, and generally causes severe bladder pain and pressure, along with pelvic pain and feelings of urgency — leading to dozens of bathroom breaks a day. Left untreated, it can cause bladder and kidney disease down the road.
IC and endometriosis are often referred to as the “evil twins” since women who often have one condition experience the other. Endometriosis is caused by overgrowth of endometrium tissue — or the inner lining of the uterus — in other parts of the body, including the bladder. Dunham also suffers from endometriosis and wrote about her long battle to treatment in a November 2015 issue of Lenny Letter.
“Endometriosis is not life-threatening. It doesn’t manifest externally very often; the symptoms just look like a pair of sweatpants and a Charlize Theron–in–Monster–level grimace,” she wrote. “I know I’m lucky in the grand health scheme, but I also know that I am one of many women who grasp for a sense of consistent well-being, fight against the betrayals of their bodies, and who are often met with skepticism by doctors trained to view painful periods as the lot of women who should learn to grin and bear it.”
Dunham hasn’t yet talked at length about her bladder condition like she has about her battles with endo and anxiety, but it’s clear she’s helping bring awareness to it already — and fans are thanking her.
“I love that you posted this!! I’ve had IC for 6 years and just learned what it is upon moving to KC this year and seeing a specialist,” one Instagrammer wrote. “I’m telling you that there are probably hundreds of thousands of women living with IC but feel ashamed to talk about it for the same reason I felt ashamed going to doctors who in Oklahoma kept suggesting I had an STD.”
Let’s hope that her post helps others feel a little less alone — and less ashamed — about diseases they can’t control.