Hello Charity Chargers. We continue our Spotlight series with NYC-based charity, The Endometriosis Foundation of America. The medical nonprofit has contributed substantially to medical research with their ROSE study, created community awareness with the ENPOWR education project, hosted medical conferences and benefits, and transformed the lives of thousands women and girls across the U.S., where one in ten women suffer from the disorder.

Padma Lakshmi and Dr. Tamer Seckin cofounded the Endometriosis Foundation of America in 2009 with the shared goal of advocating effective intervention, treatment, and early diagnosis of the disorder. Dr. Seckin is a leader in the field of gynecological surgery and you’ve probably heard of Lakshmi — she is the host of Top Chef as well as a savvy businesswoman, top selling cookbook author, model, actress, and executive producer. Both have used their notoriety as a platform to raise awareness of and visibility for the disease.

For Lakshmi, the fight against endometriosis is personal: She has it. Her experience as a patient allows her to empathize directly with the women the foundation serves. Early diagnosis is a strong emphasis for Lakshmi as she was diagnosed some 23 years after she first experienced symptoms. In an interview on The View in February of this year she stated that, “After I got treatment and I was on the other side of the pain, I just got angry because there is treatment and in my mother’s generation there wasn’t.”

During the interview, Lakshmi makes a key point that the disorder is one of the three leading causes for infertility in women by stating that, “A lot of women in my generation are deferring motherhood, if you’ve never explored your fertility by the time you are ready it may be too late.”

So what exactly is endometriosis? We’re not doctors, but our understanding goes as follows. The name for the disorder stems from the lining around the uterus called the endometrium, which facilitates the transportation of the egg during fertilization. Once a month this thick, rich lining is expelled from the body when women get their period. In those who have the disorder, endometrial tissue is present outside the uterus in other parts of the body (usually on the reproductive organs). Over time, endometriosis creates lesions that wreak chaos on the body’s homeostasis resulting in hormonal changes, chronic pelvic pain, cramps, excessive bleeding, painful sex, back pain, nausea, headaches, or a shooting pain down one leg. Lakshmi advises women to seek out a pelvic exam if they experience two or more of these symptoms.

Although there is no cure for endometriosis, some treatments (surgery, hormone therapy, pain medication) have allowed women to stave off the negative effects of the disease. Dr. Seckin is one of the few gynecological surgeons in the U.S. with the advanced training needed for the deep laparoscopic exclusion of endometrial lesions. Alongside Dr. Harry Reich, he has pioneered several surgical techniques with the use of graphical technologies that have aided in advancing research and treatment options for the disease. Additionally, he has developed and patented several surgical instruments used during these procedures and published work in top medical journals.

If you are interested in learning more about the disease or donating for research, visit www.endofound.org.