She was in agony, facing near-constant pain as well as fatigue, cramping and nausea. But doctors couldn’t explain why Bindi Irwin — the daughter of late The Crocodile Hunter star Steve Irwin — struggled to function even after she underwent MRIs, ultrasounds and CT scans. All the tests they gave her, for everything from cancer to tropical maladies to Lyme disease, “came back totally clear, fine and normal,” she tells Life & Style in an exclusive new interview, noting that some medical professionals even dismissed her complaints. “For 10 years, I had no idea what was wrong with me. And yet, as I got older, my pain increased.”

Things were never worse than following the 2021 birth of daughter Grace Warrior, though. “After I had her, it was a snowball,” Bindi recalls. “It was like I was on fire inside.”

When a friend publicly shared her own health journey with endometriosis — a condition in which uterine tissue grows outside of the womb, causing intense pain and, for some, infertility — a light bulb finally went off.

“I was reading it thinking this is the first time I’ve ever heard about someone having symptoms so similar to mine,” says Bindi, who would go on to be diagnosed with the same disorder, have 37 lesions surgically removed and discover there was a large cyst “taking over my ovary. It was very, very scary, but I’m grateful to get to share my story. I believe everything happens for a reason.”

Bindi Irwin’s Shock and Recovery

Bindi, 25, talked to Life & Style on May 3, while being honored at the Endometriosis Foundation of America’s 12th annual Blossom Ball in NYC. The Big Apple is also where “the stars somehow aligned,” she says, and Dr. Tamer Seckin — a world-renowned endo expert — was able to operate on the Australia-based wildlife conservationist in early 2023 during a pre-planned trip to visit family in the States. The only way to confirm an endometriosis diagnosis is through surgery.

“The fear that I had going into surgery was intense. I had no idea if I would wake up and they would tell me that I didn’t have it and then I’m back to zero,” Bindi says, explaining how she thought her life would essentially be over if it turned out the pervasive disease wasn’t the source of her misery. “There’s an agonizing fear that there’ll be no answers and you will have to stare down the barrel of a gun for the rest of your life.”

Bindi Irwin Reveals Fear She Had Over Endometriosis Surgery
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Endometriosis Foundation of America

But following her hours-long surgery, she finally learned it was endo. As she awakened in the recovery room, she recalled, Dr. Seckin asked her, “How did you live with this much pain?” She’s since said her health now is like “night and day. It’s completely different. I am a new person.”

Bindi Is Staying Strong

The TV star’s family — husband Chandler Powell, 27, mom Terri, 59, brother Robert, 20, and daughter Grace, 3 — have been her support system amid her ordeal. Bindi credits Steve, who died in a stingray attack at 44 in 2006, and the spirit she inherited from him with helping save her, too. “I am very grateful for my dad’s genetics — having that fire and that fight within me to keep going,” Bindi says. “Some days when you’re dealing with crippling pain and you just want to throw up all the time, it’s really hard to get up and keep going. And I think that is his strength.”

In fact, she still feels “his presence” everywhere. “Even though me and my brother got Dad for a very short amount of time, it was such a wonderful time,” says Bindi. “His energy was so strong and his love was so strong that it will last a lifetime and beyond that.”

Robert is in awe of his sister, whom he calls “a guiding force.” Her endometriosis journey “has definitely been the toughest challenge yet for her and for our family,” he tells Life & Style, “but she has come out of this with this sense of real need to spread this message and to help other women. I’m so proud to support her and proud to be an endo ally.”

Bindi’s hope, she says, is to raise awareness of the condition that affects an estimated 11 percent of American women. “We just need more education for everybody. We need to give doctors the tools that they need” to diagnose more patients sooner, she says, adding that ultimately, she just wants people to believe women. “If a woman comes in and says ‘I am in agonizing pain,’ don’t send them home, saying, ‘You need a cup of tea and a lie-down.’ Hear their pain because that’s what is the most validating for me. Somebody finally listened and heard.”

As she spoke to Life & Style, the heart-shaped pendant hanging from her neck — a gift from her mom post-surgery — shimmered. “It says ‘Better than yesterday,’” Bindi shared. “And it’s true. Every single day, I am better than yesterday.”