Padma Lakshmi was diagnosed with endometriosis at 36, and has become an advocate for the health issue faced by many women.
But speaking to EW and PEOPLE editorial director Jess Cagle to promote her new memoir, Love, Loss, And What We Ate, Lakshmi explained how the condition — where tissue grows outside the uterus — contributed to her divorce from author Salman Rushdie in 2007.
“It’s a complicated issue: why does any marriage fail? But I spent many happy years with Salman too. At the time I divorced him, I spent half my adult life with him — I was with him for eight years,” Lakshmi explained. “I think, yes, endometriosis was definitely a major reason that my marriage failed. I don’t think either of us understood it at the time — for as smart and intelligent as Salman is. I think that’s also because I hid it to a certain degree. Not intentionally, but it’s weird to talk about your period all the time. It’s the least sexy thing in the world to do.”
Since her diagnosis, Lakshmi co-founded the Endometriosis Foundation of America to help educate and raise awareness among young women. “If I don’t talk about it — or women like me don’t talk about it — what hope does the next generation of young girls have?” she told Cagle.
Watch above, and head to PEOPLE for more on Lakshmi.