Padma Lakshmi, 47, struggled with the painful condition endometriosis for over 20 years, and for much of that time had no idea why she was suffering. As a result, she’s made it her life’s mission to help ALL women get the proper medical care they need. Not only that, the Top Chef host is also determined to change how women’s health is viewed in general — because it’s time to have some damn respect for the womb! Speaking at the Variety Power of Women event on April 13, Padma gave a powerful speech about how she was “penalized” for having a vagina. Click here to see all the gorgeous looks on the Variety Power Women red carpet.
In addition to her impassioned speech, Padma also received the Karma Award for her work with the Endometriosis Foundation of America, an organization she founded in 2009. “If you have endometriosis, it threatens every aspect of your life: your well-being, your physical activity, your physical well-being, your emotions, your hormones, your sensitivity to sun, your sexual relationships, your ability to be a mother,” the women’s health advocate told HollywoodLife.com EXCLUSIVELY while describing how endometriosis has effected her own life. “It effects your work, it effects how you deal with life — it’s just one other big hurdle.”
Padma also explained that on top of everything, endometriosis is actually more common than many people realize. Two hundred million women worldwide suffer from the condition, in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus and onto other organs. It can be extremely painful, can cause menstrual irregularities, and even infertility. However, endometriosis research barely receives any funding. “We give seven or 11 million dollars, somewhere in that range, for research from the US government a year for endometriosis, but it costs our system 21 billion dollars [to treat and in lost work days],” she told us. “Now, never mind if you don’t give a damn about women’s health — that you don’t care — it’s just not good business! Right? I mean, look at those figures.”
That is why Padma has dedicated to her time to help educate people about endometriosis and how it effects women, their loved ones, and even their employers. “What I want to do is change the way we talk about girls’ periods and women’s reproductive systems, because this is a disease that originates in the womb, and the attitudes of a society towards a womb reflect how society views itself,” the honoree said. “Every human being comes from the womb. We need to respect that, we need to talk about that, and we need to help people who have been suffering in silence for decades.”
In her speech, Padma pointed out that it took her so long to find a diagnosis, in part, she believes, because of gender discrimination. “I began to realize that I was being penalized because I have a uterus. I have a vagina,” the native of India told the crowd. “Most women with endo don’t get properly diagnosed for a full decade. The only real treatment we have for endo is surgery or the pill. And now they’re trying to take that away from us too.” Padma was referring to the Trump administration no longer requiring insurance plans to cover the birth control pill or even the surgery to treat endometriosis.
Along with Padma, stars like Lena Dunham, Whoopi Goldberg, Julianne Hough, Dolly Parton, and Tia Mowry also suffer from the condition.