Real Housewives of New York‘s Bethenny Frankel has just reminded us all that reality TV stars are not one-dimensional characters. Yes, she’s a multimillionaire with a Picasso on the wall of her sprawling, new Hamptons pad. But above anything else, she’s a 45-year-old woman who’s experienced one of the most painful, frustrating, chronic women’s health conditions.
Frankel has shared her personal endometriosis experience in an open letter on her website, and she doesn’t hold back. It’s pretty intense reading, but it’s a breath of fresh air for oh, the millions of women who suffer from the same thing (many of them for years or even decades before they are diagnosed).
In the post, entitled “Open Letter: Getting Real About My Health,” Frankel reveals that while shooting Real Housewives of New York, her condition took over her life. After her doctor removed her IUD to start “eliminating causes” of her bleeding, Frankel found her bleeding only got worse — to the extent that she was losing “literally clumps of blood,” ruining her rug, her linens, bleeding all over her car and “through dozens of pads and tampons.”
Frankel admitted being “scared” by her symptoms: she “constantly felt freezing” and had “black circles” under her eyes. She later discovered that the fibroids she had a few years earlier had grown rapidly, so much that they were twice the size of her uterus. She had lost almost 10 percent of her blood.
“I was a mess,” she wrote.
Desperate for some relief, Frankel was then offered three choices: a myomectomy, the surgical removal of fibroids from the uterus, which allows the uterus to be left in place and preserves fertility; a hysterectomy, part or whole removal of the womb; or a procedure that removes only around 30 percent of the fibroids, using foam particles.
After a lot of uncertainty, stalling, and more “gushing blood,” Frankel finally booked a myomectomy. Afterwards, she looked at a picture her MD had taken of what was removed from her and said “it was insane how large the fibroids were.”
Now that she’s come out the other side, we reckon Frankel is more than qualified to offer advice to other women suffering with endometriosis:
- Find a doctor you trust and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- “Sometimes too much medical information is confusing,” writes Frankel. She recommends taking a friend, family member or loved one to your consultations, so that they can advocate for you as well as take notes.
- Always, always, always listen to your body: “If you need rest, rest.”
- Never be ashamed of what you’re going through — you’re not alone. “It’s okay to talk about it,” says Frankel.
For more information on endometriosis, visit the Endometriosis Foundation.