Padma Lakshmi used to suffer from endometriosis – when the endometrium (lining of the uterus) grows outside the uterus on ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvis, etc.
For a long time, she went under-diagnosed. Her mother warned a young Padma of long and painful periods, so young Padma assumed this was normal for girls and women. That was, until college, when she saw her friends prance around during their periods like it was just another day. A bell went off signaling to Padma this was not, in fact, normal.
Even with modern medicine, not many people truly understand endometriosis and how to effectively treat it. Padma says, “[Your] pain is real. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong.”
If you listen to your body, and this is the message you receive as well, find yourself a gynecological surgeon. The only true way to currently diagnose endometriosis is via laparoscopic excision.
Padma, along with a colleague, founded the Endometriosis Foundation of America (EFA). It aims to increase recognition of this disorder, advocate for women with endometriosis, train surgeons and fund research.
The EFA subsequently created ENPOWR, a program geared to adolescents and teaching them about the disease and how to recognize the symptoms. In their science class, girls are given the resources to better understand their bodies and continue the advocacy work, while boys can shine the endometriosis light for the women in their lives.
Opening the dialogue
Ten percent of the world’s female population suffers from endometriosis, yet it takes a woman in the United States an average of 10 years to get properly diagnosed.
Not too long ago, without Google, chat rooms or social media, there may have been a bit of an excuse. Today, however, it’s imperative that the conversation be started (and continued), so that women can better understand the signs and fight for their bodies.
Although you cannot cure endometriosis, you can treat it. And treatment can help women live a healthy and productive life, even during their periods.
Karine Bengualid, [email protected]