Supermodel, author and "Top Chef" co-host Padma Lakshmi was diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 36 — too late, she said, to save her marriage to author Salman Rushdie, and too late to avoid many personal and professional repercussions caused by a disease that often eludes diagnosis.
"If I had been diagnosed at 16 or 26 or even 32, I would have gained valuable time," Lakshmi said. "I would have been able to be more present for my family and friends ... [had] a greater capacity to advance professionally, and I would have also had a greater capacity for intimacy."
Lakshmi has been public about the fact that having endometriosis was a major factor in the dissolution of her marriage to Rushdie in 2007.
She founded the Endometriosis Foundation of America with Dr. Tamer Seckin, a renowned New York City–based gynecologist and endometriosis surgeon, in the hopes of raising money and awareness about the disease.
Physicians, experts and celebrities are speaking out, including actresses Lena Dunham, Susan Sarandon and Whoopi Goldberg, who have shared their personal stories about struggling with endometriosis, a painful disorder that occurs when uterine tissue grows outside the uterus.
"It's one of those things that women don't talk about, and so anything you can do to help them come forward and find out and get diagnosed and get treatment before it turns into something really horrible I think is really important," said Sarandon.