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Women's Health

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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 was balled up in bed with a heating pad, taking Vicodin to get through the worst." She concealed her pain, embarrassed that people would think she was exaggerating.

"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 Seckin.

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