The Top Chef host, who was diagnosed at 36, has been open about her struggle with the disorder

By Claudia Harmata
July 14, 2020 09:00 AM
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Padma Lakshmi reflects on the anger she felt after her late endometriosis diagnosis in the cover story of the September issue of Women’s Health.

Looking back on her diagnosis at 36, the Top Chef host, 49, says she was "pissed" after realizing she could have been saved years of pain had a doctor recognized her symptoms sooner.

"At first, I was relieved. It wasn’t until a year after the surgery that I started getting really pissed," Lakshmi admitted, referring to an operation she had to remove invasive tissue caused by the disease.

"Like, ‘Wait a minute, I lost a week of my life every month of every year since I was 13 because of this shit, and I could have had this operation at 20 rather than 36?' " she added. "I’m shocked that a health professional didn’t say, 'This is weird. Your cramps are above and beyond what they should be.' "

Lakshmi previously opened up to PEOPLE about her struggle with the disease, recalling how it would leave her "bedridden" every time she had her period.

Padma Lakshmi
Tyler Joe for Women’s Health
Padma Lakshmi
Tyler Joe for Women’s Health

"I got my period when I was 13 and didn’t get diagnosed until I was 36. That’s 23 years, 12 months a year, 12 weeks from, you know, that I was missing at volleyball practice, the school dance, midterm exams, helping my mom cook the family meal," she told PEOPLE Now in 2018. "All these things that’s part and parcel of being a teenage kid.”

Since her diagnosis and as she's gotten older, the cookbook author said her symptoms have improved.

“I’m getting older, and so my hormones are calming down, so I don’t suffer as much as I used to,” she told PEOPLE last year. "So, my endometriosis doesn’t affect me nearly as much as it did before when I was in my 30s or in my 20s."

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In her 40s the former model also added Pilates to her workout routine, telling Women's Health it has made her body stronger in ways she wasn't expecting.

"I started going to Pilates a few years ago, because my chiropractor recommended it for my back," she said. "Pilates changed my body. It made me strong in places I didn’t know I needed to be. I have a butt now that I didn’t have during my modeling career!"

Tyler Joe for Women’s Health

She also opened up about inspiration behind her upcoming Hulu original travel series Taste the Nation, premiering on June 19.

"I was always self-referring to my own immigrant story, and I kind of got sick of talking about myself. I started trying to find and understand the stories of other immigrants, to prove my political points," she explained. "Taste the Nation is about exploring American food and how it evolves, and using food to get into a community. Because for so many of us in America, other people are deciding our narrative. Other people are telling our story in a more amplified way than we’re able to because we all don’t have access to that megaphone."

These are lessons Lakshmi also hopes to pass down to her 10-year-old daughter, Krishna.

"I’m trying to think through the practice of cooking with Krishna. I want to pass down more than just heritage and culture — also how to live ethically, and be kind and fair and detail-oriented," she said. "There are metaphors for life that you can find in the act of cooking."