Bindi Irwin Says Doctors Dismissed Her Pain Before Endometriosis Diagnosis: 'It’s All in Your Head' (Exclusive)

“You end up feeling so desperately alone because there’s no answers,” the 'Crikey! It's The Irwins' star tells PEOPLE

Bindi Irwin is one of the many women who lived for years with undiagnosed — and painful — endometriosis.

The Crikey! It's The Irwins star opened up about suffering privately for more than a decade after her debilitating symptoms were initially dismissed by doctors.

Over the years, the 25-year-old dealt with excruciating fatigue, pain and nausea as she saw specialists and underwent countless tests and scans in search of answers. Despite her symptoms worsening, she recalls medical professionals brushing off her health concerns.

“I was tested for everything,” Irwin tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “Every tropical disease, Lyme disease, cancer, you name it. I had every blood test and scan imaginable.”

“It’s so hard because you feel like it’s inescapable,” she says. “You don’t know what’s wrong with you, and then when people tell you ‘It’s all in your head’ or ‘you’re hormonal’ or ‘just have a cup of tea, lay down,’ you end up feeling so desperately alone because there’s no answers.”

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Bindi Irwin in the hospital for endometriosis
Bindi Irwin in the hospital for endometriosis

Related: Robert Irwin Says Sister Bindi 'Was Going Downhill Fast' During Endometriosis Battle

Irwin admits that she had started to lose hope until realizing how badly she needed help: In August 2022, sudden and severe pain forced her to the ground and into a fetal position.

The scary moment pushed her to undergo a laparoscopy — a minimally invasive method for the diagnosis and treatment of intra-abdominal diseases.

“I was so scared that they wouldn’t find anything because we had run out of everything else to test for,” she recalls. “After years of doctors and various people telling you there’s nothing, you really start to believe it. You wind up in this strange space of self-doubt, fear and insecurity. That’s hard to overcome.”

However, the procedure confirmed Irwin had endometriosis, the reproductive condition in which uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus, causing cramping and chronic pain. During the laparoscopy, Irwin says they found 37 lesions and a cyst on her ovary, which she eventually had removed via surgery.

<p>Kate Berry/Australia Zoo</p> Bindi Irwin and her daughter Grace

Kate Berry/Australia Zoo

Bindi Irwin and her daughter Grace

Related: 18 Celebrities Who Are Spreading the Word About the Pain of Endometriosis

Today, the Animal Planet star says she feels so much better without constant pain.

“It’s not like a light switch, but every week I feel like I’m able to do a little bit more,” she tells PEOPLE of her gradual and life-altering recovery. “Now I wake up in the morning, and I don’t have to take anti-nausea medicine or have my heat pack. Being able to go for a walk with my daughter and not feeling like I have to throw up in the bushes is just wild to me.”

“I feel like I have a second chance at life,” she says. “I feel brand new.”

Irwin hopes her experience can “inspire others to keep fighting for the answers that they deserve. At the core of it all, you really need someone to be able to say, ‘It’s not in your head, and do not give up on yourself.’ ”

For the full story on Bindi Irwin, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

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Read the original article on People.