For over two decades, Padma Lakshmi spent one week every month isolated from her daily life. Bedridden with pain ranging from severe cramps, spasms, headaches, numbness in one leg, and nausea, she saw doctor after doctor only to be prescribed the wrong medications or told that pain was just something she was supposed to live with. Finally, at age 36, she was diagnosed with Endometriosis—a disease of menstruation—and after one successful surgery she’s gone on to live a whole new life. Driven by the anger she felt from her years of being misdiagnosed, Padma founded the Endometriosis Foundation of America, a non-profit organization dedicated to battling endometriosis through research, education, and increasing awareness.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis a disease of menstruation. It occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus or endometrium migrates outside of the womb resulting in inflammation during a woman's menstrual cycle. The disease affects an estimated 200 million women worldwide, and many women often experience a decade-long delay in diagnosis. Currently, there is no known cause of endometriosis and no cure.
Tell us about your experience with Endometriosis, both prior to and after your diagnosis.
I’ve suffered with this disease since 13. Through high school and college, my period became worse and I would miss school because I was bedridden for 3-4 days each month. I took serious pain medication which mitigated only some of the pain, and I felt emotionally raw and isolated.
I finally got diagnosed at 36. Meeting Dr. Seckin, my co-founder, changed my life. Once I was on the other side of the surgeries and saw what the world was like for normal, healthy women, I couldn’t believe I had gone on suffering for so long. As women, we are conditioned to equate womanhood with pain and suffering during childbirth, but also in tacit ways that are so subtle and insidious in our patriarchal culture, it’s hard to see that we need to be our own advocates about our health and well-being.