Padma Lakshmi underwent two emergency surgeries before she learned the word endometriosis.
While accepting the Karma Award at Variety‘s Power of Women luncheon in New York, the “Top Chef” host and founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America discussed her personal battle with the disease and the lack of resources and knowledge accessible to women and doctors dealing with it.
“When we first started the EFA nine years ago, most people couldn’t even say endometriosis, let alone know what it was,” Lakshmi said. “Many doctors still don’t know how to properly diagnose it.”
Lakshmi said doctors initially told her there was nothing she could do to relieve the painful cramps, nausea, backaches, excessive bleeding, and digestive issues she experienced during her menstrual cycle. She was not diagnosed with and treated for endometriosis until 23 years later. The activist also added that the majority of women sometimes go a decade undiagnosed with endometriosis.
“When I finally got the surgeries I needed and saw what life was like, I was relieved,” Lakshmi said. “But then I got angry. And that’s how the EFA was born.”
She then expanded her speech to address the government’s handling of women’s health, calling out Vice President Mike Pence in particular for his efforts to limit birth control options for women, which are often used to treat the disease.
“I began to realize that I was being penalized because I have a uterus,” Lakshmi said. “I have a vagina. That’s right, a vagina, a love box, a snatch, a pleasure cave, my privates, my punani, my down there, the Bermuda triangle, a coochie, a yoni and the c-word. Oh, and to put it in the words of our oh so articulate commander in chief, a pussy.”
Supporting her statements with statistics, Lakshmi noted that the government spends $7 million to $11 million on endometriosis research a year, although it costs $21 billion. She finished her speech with a forward-looking attitude.
“I hope that by the time my daughter is an adult, there is a cure, or at least accessible treatment that is covered by insurance, so women worldwide don’t have to suffer in silence, like I and millions and millions and millions of women do,” she said.