Along with being a female comes monthly menstrual pains – the intensity of which differs from woman to woman. Even if you’re the type that barely notices when it’s that time of the month, it’s almost certain that you know someone who spends her few days curled up in the foetal position or whose period is so irregular she can’t mark the days on her calendar. Lena Dunham is one of those women.

After publicly opening up about her battle with endometriosis, Lena has given us a bit of insight on what it’s like to suffer from immense period pain. She was hospitalised following an ovarian cyst rupture. Her rep Cindy Berger has confirmed that the writer and actress will have to undergo surgery but has not mentioned the time Lena is expected to be in hospital for.

The illness – that affects one in 10 women – occurs when the inner uterus lining (called the endometrium) is found outside of the uterus, elsewhere in the body. The cells act in the same way they do during a woman’s menstrual cycle but problems arise because the cells have no way of exiting the body. Consequences of this include unbearable pelvic cramps, an irregular menstrual cycle and more extreme cases could render the woman infertile.

Related: Are you unkowingly making your period worse?

Lena has written about her reproductive battle before. In November last year, she went into detail about how it has been improperly diagnosed in her highly popular newsletter, Lenny Letter. She raises the point that many women will never be diagnosed with the illness and their pains will be dismissed as heavy periods, which shines a spotlight on the lack of research around women’s reproductive health.

‘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. 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,’ she wrote.

Though she has been diagnosed and has received treatment for the illness, her condition worsened again earlier this year, causing her to cease all press meetings for the fifth season of her HBO comedy, Girls. There is currently no known cure for the condition, but it is manageable.

Hey Beloved Pals,I just wanted to let you know that, while I am so excited for Girls to return on Feb 21, I won’t be…

Posted by Lena Dunham on Monday, 8 February 2016

We sympathise with Lena and we’re glad her battle is being recorded and highlighted so that many other women can be aware of what might be going on in their bodies. And that’s hat she wants too according to her letter, ‘Being a woman is the best thing that ever happened to me. But I also hope for a future in which the pain of teenage girls is fully investigated, taken as seriously as a broken leg.’