OnlyOnAOL: Lena Dunham, Padma Lakshmi get very real about their bodies

Padma Lakshmi On "Love, Loss and What We Ate"
Padma Lakshmi On "Love, Loss and What We Ate"

By: Donna Freydkin

Padma Lakshmi has a message for you. Yes, you.

"It's OK to talk about your period. It's natural. It happens to half the population," says Lakshmi.

The author, "Top Chef" host/judge and co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America raises money to boost knowledge of the disease and fund research at her annual Blossom Ball, held Tuesday night at Chelsea Piers. This year's honorees: Lena Dunham and Susan Sarandon.

Back in February, Dunham cancelled press for her show "Girls" to deal with her own endometriosis complications and focus on her health.

"Padma speaking publically about her situation was a huge part of the reason (I went public). People think, 'Oh, you get naked on TV but I always had a kind of prudishness about talking about my period and my reproductive organs – despite being naked on TV, and a pro-choice, liberal nut-job. To see someone as beautiful and glamorous and respected as Padma say that yes, I'm going through this and it's not pretty gave so many of us the space to come forward and tell our stories," says Dunham.

8th Annual Blossom Ball
8th Annual Blossom Ball

When she went public with her own health issues, "People were so kind," says Dunham.

For her, the toughest part was vocalizing her own pain and being heard. "Being rushed to a hospital where a lot of people don't understand what endometriosis is. I understand what's going on right now. It's disorienting to sometimes know your own state better than a doctor," says Dunham.

Lakshmi jokes that folks are plenty comfortable talking about erectile dysfunction, but bring up menstrual issues and boom: code of silence. "We live in a really puritanical society," says Dunham. "We're not encouraged to speak openly about what we go through with our reproductive health."

Adds Lakshmi: "It's not part of being a woman to have that much pain chronically, at all."