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The Daily Dish Relationships

Lena Dunham's New Baby Obsession Is a Real Result of Taking Estrogen, Says Top Doctor

The actress has been through a tough time since beng diagnosed with endometriosis.

By Marianne Garvey

Lena Dunham is “suddenly obsessed with babies” she says, wondering if her new urge is a result of taking estrogen after her hysterectomy — and one doctor explains to us exactly how this happens.

The writer/actress revealed she started on estrogen last week as a result of the operation, and is now “having actual childbirth dreams.”

She tweeted: “I started estrogen a week ago tomorrow and am suddenly obsessed with babies and having actual childbirth dreams. Is this biological? Can anyone with post-hysterectomy experience give me their thoughts?”

Her followers responded with their own stories, one writes, “It's not uncommon. After mine at age 19 I had two years of baby thoughts and dreams. It was also about two years before I could hold a baby without crying. It gets better. Give it time. It will get better.”

Lena also tweeted that she sometimes mourns the fact that she cannot have a biological child.

“Sometimes in the middle of a joyful day the fact that I’ll never be able to bear children hits me hard,” she wrote. “I logically understand why this isn’t a necessity- politically, emotionally etc. But you can understand and still not *know* It was a dream of mine.”

Dr. Nicole Avena, PhD., Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, tells Personal Space Lena’s dreams are a real side effect of the estrogen.

“Estrogen surges have been known to be associated with weird dreams, although we don’t know the exact biological mechanism for it,” Dr. Avena says. “We do know that estrogen can have a significant impact on emotions.”

Dr. Avena adds that estrogen typically can have “an anti-depressive effect and create feel-good emotions,” even if that comes in the form of baby fever dreams.

“Along with serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter whose functioning is enhanced by estrogen, it makes complete sense to me that estrogen use could improve Lena’s mood, and this could also be manifested in dreams about babies, since she is psychologically and physically coping with the aftermath of her hysterectomy,” she says.

A 2010 story in The New York Times about estrogen describes some positive effects of the hormone and how exactly it works: "Estrogen in action...It’s an amazing process. When cells are healthy, estrogenic molecules slide right in, searching for special receptors that are shaped precisely for the estrogens: the receptors are tiny locks, waiting for the right molecular keys to turn them on. Then, once they are activated by the key-turning process, the work estrogen receptors do is richly complex, if only partly understood. They prod genes into action; they raise good cholesterol; they affect the neurotransmitter chemicals associated with mood and stress, like serotonin and dopamine."

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