'IVF destroyed my body': Lena Dunham tells why she gave up hope of having her own child

Lena Dunham opened up about her fertility struggles in an emotional essay.
Lena Dunham opened up about her fertility struggles in an emotional essay. Photo: Instagram

Lena Dunham has opened up about her heartbreaking failed IVF attempt in an emotional essay, detailing her struggles with sobriety, fertility treatments and maintaining relationships when she found out she would never have a biological child.

In the piece published by Harper's Magazine, the writer, director and actress said she came to terms with a "re-imagined" idea of what motherhood would look like after having her cervix, uterus and one ovary removed at the age of 31 due to chronic endometriosis.

"The moment I lost my fertility I started searching for a baby, scrolling through adoption websites as if they were furniture outlets," she wrote.

Dunham said she first toyed with the idea of adopting a child to become a mother after assuming IVF would not be an option after the surgery. So she was surprised when her doctor said she might be able to harvest eggs with her remaining ovary, which could be fertilised via a sperm donor and transferred into a surrogate.

Unfortunately, after going through the process to retrieve her eggs, the Girls creator learned none of them were viable. 


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"IVF destroyed my body," she revealed.

"As a woman who tends towards rampant endometriosis, filling my body with estrogen ... and because of what my body has been through, subjecting it to such excruciating pain, only to come to the end and learn those eggs were not viable after working so hard through illness and discomfort and going through anxiety and depression, it is just clearly not something I can ever repeat.

"I think women often have a keen instinct about what is happening with their own bodies," she said, adding she had an feeling deep down inside that it probably wouldn't work.


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The actress split from her boyfriend at the time of her fertility treatments and spoke about accepting that sometimes life is sometimes going to be different to what you planned.

"What started as wanting to carry the child of the man I loved became wanting to have a child with a man who was willing to help me have one," she wrote, confessing she "lost her way" in the process.

"Instead, each step took the process further from my body, my family, my reality," she wrote. "Each move was more expensive, more desperate, more lonely. I stopped being able to picture the ending."

The New York based filmmaker said she's still committed to becoming a mother in a way that is right for her. Dunham concluded the essay by saying she's accepted there are certain things in life you can't change.

"There is a lot you can correct in life—you can end a relationship, get sober, get serious, say sorry," she wrote. "But you can't force the universe to give you a baby that your body has told you all along was an impossibility."

For the time being, Dunham says she's working hard and emotionally preparing for when she is ready for baby one day.

"When I'm lucky enough to be able to have a child in my arms, I will not take for granted how many stops, twists and turns it has taken for that child to be in my arms, and to be in my life," she said.