As a young girl, Padma Lakshmi suffered from undiagnosed endometriosis so severe, she tells PEOPLE, “I had to stay home several days a month from school. I missed a week of my life for 23 years.”
The Top Chef host, 44, reveals her symptoms included bloating, cramping, excessive bleeding and severe abdominal pain — but it was something no one really spoke about.
“It’s embarrassing,” she admits. “It’s something that is deeply private and personal.”
It wasn’t until she was 36 that Dr. Tamer Seckin identified her symptoms as endometriosis — which occurs when the uterine lining cannot be expelled with a woman’s period and grows outside the uterus — and performed surgery to remove the excess tissue. From there, Lakshmi partnered with Dr. Seckin to found the Endometriosis Foundation of America.
“I wanted to raise awareness so that no young girl has to wonder what is wrong with her like I did for so many years,” she says. That’s why the EFA — thanks to the support of New York State Senator Jeff Klein — recently launched theThe ENPOWR Project, which focuses on education programs to help young girls learn to recognize the symptoms of endometriosis.
After she was diagnosed, there were other hurdles for Lakshmi. “I was told I would never have children naturally, that I only had a 10 to 15 percent of having them in vitro,” she recalls. “When you’re staring down the barrel of your 40th birthday and you hear that you can’t have kids because this disease went unchecked and undiagnosed for so many years, it’s devastating.”
That is why she calls the birth of her daughter, Krishna, in 2010, “a miracle.” She says, “I’m so lucky to have her. Her middle name is Thea, which means ‘gift from God.’ ”
At just 5-years-old, Lakshmi’s “miracle” is getting in on her mom’s efforts. While Lakshmi plans the upcoming April 13 Blossom Ball to benefit the EFA, Krishna is also trying to do her part.
Recently, the proud mom says, “she was separating the coins from her piggybank and she said, ‘Mommy, you can have my money for your charity.’ She knows that Mom has a charity for women with ‘tummy aches.’ She wants to help.”
For more of our interview with Padma Lakshmi, pick up the latest issue ofPEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
I’ve seen many obgyns over the years explaining my monthly symptoms during my period...but eventually it became a daily struggle with these pain. It feels like a poke here and there near my right pelvic region. I was given birth control pills for the past ten years but honestly, it didn’t help at all. I was in bed whenever I had my period. I was previously sent to GI doctors for possible appendicitis but it was ruled out from imagings…
Dr.Seckin is so much more than a surgeon. His passion for helping endometriosis sufferers and determination to improve the quality of life in all of his patients is undeniable. I remember when my gynecologist first told me I needed a laparoscopy. Her exact words were "I can do the surgery, but if you were MY daughter- I'd send you to him." From the first day I met him he took the time to explain endometriosis to me since I knew…
I was there for hysterectomy but then I found out that I also had endometriosis.My both surgeries went excellent and I feel great!.I am so thankful to Dr.Seckin and all his team for making my journey smooth!
I am a physician who suffered from deep infiltrative endometriosis. I needed laparoscopic surgery, so I went to see my former gynaecologist and he performed the procedure (a surgery which he supposedly does hundreds of times a year) last November. I had severe pain again when I had my period in January and was advised to go on taking a low hormone dose anticoncipient pill. My symptoms came back quickly and got worse in a few months’ time. I went…
After years of excessively painful periods, a serious loss of quality of life, and a series of uninformed and uninterested doctors, Dr. Seckin and Dr. Goldstein turned my life around. I was told I woke up from my surgery almost a year ago with a smile on my face, and I haven't stopped since. Before I heard of Dr. Seckin, I was experiencing almost daily terrible pain to the point where I had difficulty walking, inability to eat, inexplicable weight…
Dr Seckin and his team gave me back my life! Tomorrow will be 1 month since my surgery and I feel great. Dr. Seckin, Dr Liu, and Dr Goldstein are not only beyond words talented and amazing Doctors, but they are also genuinely wonderful and caring people. I cannot say enough great things about Holly, Asiye and Kim as well. They were all caring, kind, patient, and took the time to listen to me and explain anything I needed to…
Dr. Seckin and his staff spared me from years and years of heavy periods and unbearable endometriosis pain. After having surgery with him (my first) I can now function like a regular human. No more eating NSAIDs like candy and calling out sick from work. Thank you, Dr. Seckin!