Debina Bonnerjee on managing endometriosis relapse: I’ve changed my entire lifestyle

Debina Bonnerjee speaks to Health Shots about her endometriosis diagnosis, treatment and management. She urges all women to fix their lifestyles!
Debina Bonnerjee
Debina Bonnerjee talks about her diagnosis with endometriosis. Image courtesy: Debina Bonnerjee/Instagram.
Tanya Shree Published: 2 Jul 2024, 12:35 pm IST
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Women are conditioned to endure the pain and suffering that may come with menstrual health issues, until they begin to impact their reproductive health. That is mostly when they go for a deeper diagnosis and consider lifestyle changes that can empower them to reproduce. Popular Indian television actress Debina Bonnerjee, who has recently spoken about facing a painful endometriosis relapse after the birth of her two children, says the sooner women begin making positive lifestyle changes, the better it will be for their overall health and longevity.

Menstruation remains one of the most stigmatised subjects related to women’s health due to deep-rooted social, cultural and religious beliefs. Women, even in urban settings, avoid discussing period problems. But in the recent past, women in popular media around the world are breaking the chain of silence by sharing their experiences with menstrual health issues to spread awareness and normalise talking about it. While Shruti Haasan and Masaba Gupta have been open about dealing with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Dipannita Sharma expressed her fight against fibroids, and Shamita Shetty recently spoke about undergoing an endometriosis surgery.

Now in a Health Shots interview, Debina Bonnerjee has spoken at length about dealing with the complexities of endometriosis, pain management and her diet and fitness routine. The 41-year-old actress was first diagnosed with this condition around 2017, and underwent laparoscopic intervention. After that, she underwent an IVF procedure and had her first child, a daughter, with actor-husband Gurmeet Choudhary in April 2022. Following that, she conceived her second child naturally and delivered another baby girl in November 2022. As she straddles life as a mother and actor, she has found herself struggling with endometriosis pain once again.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a chronic medical condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus. This abnormal growth of tissues can occur on the ovaries, fallopian tubes and other organs within the pelvis. Endometriosis may lead to painful periods and is often associated with heavy menstrual bleeding, fatigue and infertility.

Excerpts from Debina Bonnerjee’s interview on endometriosis relapse

Q. You opened up about the recurrence of endometriosis in a YouTube video recently. When were you first diagnosed with it?

Debina Bonnerjee: Right from my childhood, I had normal periods without pain. I used to exercise during periods, and never even felt anything different. People around me used to say, ‘We have so much pain during our periods’, so I used to feel I was special. Later, I came to know that pain during periods is not normal! A couple of years back, I started experiencing a little pain. When I went to the doctor to discuss childbirth, that is when I underwent a proper uterus analysis. The doctor straightaway said, ‘You have endometriosis and adenomyosis.’ This happened around 2017 or 2018.

Q. Can you tell us more about the condition?

Debina Bonnerjee: I didn’t even know about any of these terms back then. My doctor explained that these conditions are due to abnormal tissue growth within the walls of the uterus and sometimes even outside of the uterus. Adenomyosis is the growth of tissues outside the uterus. Sometimes, these tissues even grow to your groin, the joint of your leg and your body’s pelvic joint. When a normal period happens, the internal wall of the uterus sheds. But in this condition, since the tissues tend to grow abnormally all around and all over, the bleeding happens inside the wall of the uterus and even wherever the tissues have grown. That is why endometriosis and adenomyosis are such painful conditions.

Debina Bonnerjee
Debina Bonnerjee talks about how she managed endometriosis. Image courtesy: Debina Bonnerjee/Instagram.

Q. Did endometriosis affect your fertility journey and what measures did you take to manage it?

Debina Bonnerjee: There is no treatment for endometriosis. But there are a few ways to control it. One is to keep popping painkillers, and the other is to not have periods (through oral medication). That’s only because when there is no period, there is no pain. The third thing is uterus removal. But since that was my time of trying to have a baby, I couldn’t consider any of the options. My only option was to just withstand the pain and continue with the treatment.

Due to the tissue growths, I underwent a minor laparoscopy to clean my uterus internally. Finally, my babies happened too! For a couple of months, I did not get my periods, so there was no pain. But when I finally got my period, the pain resumed. So the first two months were bearable and then it became unbearable again! Two months ago, I went and spoke to my doctor about the natural conception that I had with all these conditions. My doctor told me that I had grade four or stage four endometriosis, which is a lot. Despite that, with a positive mindset, people can conceive. The thing is that endometriosis does not go away at all and a laparoscopy can give temporary relief. But it comes back again.

Also Read: Facing worst hormonal issues: Shruti Haasan shares her battle with PCOS and endometriosis

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Q. What measures are you taking for endometriosis relapse management, given that you now have two little kids to take care of?

Debina Bonnerjee: It is so painful! This condition is irreversible, so like I said, it can come back eventually. People have been giving me loads of advice. Somebody is telling me to go for homoeopathy, someone else has suggested allopathy and I am also being advised a hysterectomy (a surgical procedure to remove the uterus)! I do not know what is the next step as of now. It is only painkillers that are helping me.

I understand that endometriosis is a lifestyle-related disorder. And after reading about it, I made a huge change in my lifestyle. I made changes in my household too. Starting from the balcony to my kitchen, I removed all plastic goods from the house. I threw away aluminium things from my house and started eating clean. I think these measures also helped me with conceiving my two children. We tend to intake a lot of pesticides through vegetables, fruits, and pulses. I removed gluten from my life and even pulses because they are not so gut-friendly. I would say I brought a lot of changes in my lifestyle!

Debina Bonnerjee
Debina Bonnerjee talks about how lifestyle changes can control endometriosis. Image courtesy: Debina Bonnerjee/Instagram.

Q. Do you agree more women need to talk about menstrual health issues other than Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) symptoms?

Debina Bonnerjee: Yes, people are not aware of many menstrual health issues. It is only when it worsens or when we go for a diagnosis before pregnancy that we go in-depth and find out about any problems. I think that by making lifestyle changes right from the beginning in our lives, we can control certain conditions, if not totally avoid them.

Also Read: Shamita Shetty undergoes surgery for endometriosis, urges women to ‘listen to your body’

Q. You have also taken to fitness vigorously. Do you feel that post-pregnancy, women should focus on holistic wellness over returning to shape?

Debina Bonnerjee: Absolutely! It is always more about holistic wellness and overall fitness. But somehow, returning to the previous shape is a kind of motivation for new mothers. Even if a woman has a vision (to return to pre-pregnancy shape), at least, they are getting into a lifestyle of workout and eating clean. But that should not be the only motto! When my mother started working out at the age of 60, she would initially get tired after working out. I told her that even I felt the same. But because of that extra push and mental motivation, our body starts responding. It’s the muscles that hold our whole body. So by working out, we tend to condition our brain, our muscles, and our body to be disciplined and to push our limits. I do feel people who workout are more disciplined, headstrong and have more control over their mind power than anybody else.

Q. What message would you like to share with other women facing similar challenges?

Debina Bonnerjee: You are not alone. If I have been able to come out of it, so can you. When I came out with my endometriosis story, I got a lot of messages from people all over the world. I came to know that I was not alone. I have come across direct messages and mails of so many women who have handled endometriosis on their level. When you listen to motivational stories, you tend to get the confidence and motivation that you will be able to manage it and come out of it eventually. So, keep the faith, and go on.

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Meet Tanya Shree! Armed with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and a flair for photography and visual communication, she is a stickler for detail.An avid reader and a shopping aficionado, she has a knack for spotting hidden gems and dissecting products. Her own passion to check out the best deals online matches her dedication to ensure our readers get information that is research-backed and fact-checked.With her clear, concise and reliable content, Tanya helps users make the best choice when it comes to choosing health and wellness products from the vast online pool. ...Read More

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