Recipe for Success: Padma Lakshmi
The Top Chef host dishes on food, fame, and her struggles with endometriosis -- plus she shares two delectable recipes.
Padma's Struggle With Endometriosis continued...
"I thought I was hypersensitive and just being a wimp," she says. Her mother
had suffered the same way. "I thought this was my lot in life."
In 2006, she had to leave a photo shoot doubled over in pain. Her internist
sent her to Tamer Seckin, MD, a laparoscopic surgeon in New York City
specializing in endometriosis.
Lakshmi was suffering from a severe case of the condition, which affects
more than 5.5 million women in the United States. It occurs when the
endometrium, the tissue of the inner lining of the uterus, grows in places
outside of the uterus -- most often on other pelvic structures, including the
ovaries and fallopian tubes, or behind the uterus. Researchers don't yet know
what causes this condition, but one theory is that endometriosis is linked to
menstruation backflow. Other possible theories include the involvement of
inherited genes, the immune system, the lymphatic or vascular system, and
chemicals in the body that somehow trigger the condition.
"These tiny pieces of endometrium attach and develop their own blood supply
and respond to the hormonal environment there," says Pamela Stratton, MD, chief
of the Gynecology Consult Service at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Md.
Symptoms of endometriosis vary widely, but include: extremely painful
menstrual cramps, pain during or after sex, ongoing pelvic and lower back pain,
heavy periods, spotting and bleeding between periods, painful bowel movements,
or painful urination during menstrual periods.
Endometriosis is one of the top three causes of female infertility; about
30% to 40% of women who have the condition become infertile. That's one reason
early diagnosis and treatment are key.
That treatment can include medication, hormone therapy, and surgery.
Treatment for infertility usually involves assisted reproductive treatments.
Getting to an Endometriosis Diagnosis
Lakshmi was relieved to finally have her endometriosis diagnosed, but
stunned that it had taken so many years to figure out what was wrong, says
"She said to me, 'Why am I being diagnosed this late?' She'd gone from
doctor to doctor at some of the best hospitals in the United States. She
rewound her history and realized she could have been diagnosed much earlier."
And had her condition been identified more promptly, says Seckin, she would
have been spared years of agony. Not to mention major surgery.
The longer endometriosis goes unchecked, the harder it can be to treat and
the more it can damage the body. Lakshmi's first surgery in 2006 to remove the
wayward tissue took four and a half hours.
"I had stitches in three major organs and was bedridden from Thanksgiving to
February 1," she says.
Lakshmi has had three additional surgeries since and is now better able to
control the pain with over-the-counter medication.