I finished this just in time for the conclusion of Endometriosis Awareness Month (March)! This post is based solely on my personal experiences. You should talk to your doctor first about medications, supplements, and endometriosis treatment plans. 

After IVF1 in July 2012, I was a depressed mess. My belly was swollen and looking very odd (read: squishy) after all the fertility drugs. I felt sluggish and was having frequent stomachaches. I am also convinced that my endometriosis worsened due to all the estrogen I pumped into my body. Despite my hot mess status, I found myself wishing we could jump right back into pursuing more treatment. I knew that wouldn’t happen, mostly because of my mental status and finances, but I was so desperate to get that positive pregnancy test. When you are going through fertility treatments and receiving negative results, you tend to get a tad obsessive about “next steps”. It feels like if you don’t have a plan B, C, and D, you will fall off the edge of the Earth. Or at least that’s how it felt for me.

So when our fertility doctor suggested I go on birth control indefinitely, I was crushed.  I wanted to have the chance to try naturally after IVF. It made me really sad and anxious to think we would just be “wasting time” with me on the pill. However, I listened to my doctor and I had a moment of clarity. It was highly unlikely that we would get pregnant naturally. We had tried that method before, and unfortunately I am likely not in that special group of endo women that can achieve a natural pregnancy. I had to let go of that mindset for the time being. It doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. Miracles happen every day (as we know), but for now, I had to give my poor body a break and re-group.

The Birth Control Pill & Lupron Depot

Being on the pill for the past eight months has been an overall positive experience. I know the pill is basically only a temporary (if any) fix for endometriosis. However, after IVF, it seems to have been helpful for me. No nightmare periods. Minimal hormonal mood swings. Minimal endometriosis pain. My body needed this after all the IVF drugs. The best benefit of all? My endometrioma cysts are smaller. It has taken almost a year, but they are shrinking. Part of me hates to put that in writing for fear that they will hear me and start growing again, but there it is. I had an ultrasound last week, and it seems they are smaller. I believe this is due to the pill, and also my commitment to a healthier diet.

On the insistence of my doctor, this Friday I start Lupron Depot for a month maybe two. This freaks me out to no end, but I am following the advice of my doctor. I am going to suck it up and put on my big girl panties. More on Lupron to come…

Diet

There is so much literature out there these days that talks about how diet helps your fertility and can reduce your endometriosis. I have spent hours reading about it. What has been frustrating is the fact that a lot of the articles and websites aren’t based on much (if any) scientific evidence. Or if they are, they are based on one random study done in a foreign country and you have no idea how they got the results they did. Then there are the fertility-related forums and chat boards that mean well, but are basically sharing old wives’ tale type advice. “I ate 15 oranges a day during my IVF cycle, and now I’m 5 months pregnant!” The next day I’m at the grocery store stock piling oranges. But then the day after that I read some Chinese medicine article that tells me to avoid oranges like the plague. It is VERY confusing.

For women with endometriosis, it gets even trickier. Endometriosis comes with its own set of dietary restrictions and special considerations. However, nothing is really a sure thing. Here is what I am doing to work on my diet. I started with the Body Ecology Diet. I bought the book on my Nook and read through it rather quickly. I found a lot of helpful tips, and learned about how essential it is to have a healthy digestive tract. The diet is very strict and involves a heavy level of commitment. So far, I have not been able to commit to all of its tenets, however, I have found that loosely following the diet has been helpful. L has been participating in all this dietary experiment. Naturally, he has lost fifteen pounds. I have lost none. I don’t really care, because I am not in it to lose weight. I’m thrilled for him though!

I have dozens of links about lifestyle changes for endometriosis bookmarked on my laptop, but the one that is the most clear and basic is this link on endometriosis from the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Complementary Medicine department. The information is concise and the “Nutrition and Supplements” section is packed with a wealth of knowledge. So far, I am taking prenatal vitamins religiously, trying to up my Vitamin C in the form of Emergen-C as often as I remember, and I decided to try out an antioxidant, natural plant extract called pycnogenol. Again, even with some scientific evidence, there still isn’t a clear link between taking the supplement and suppressing endometriosis. But, I liked what I read, and decided to give it a try. I have been taking it for about two months. My fertility doctor recommended CoQ10. I tried it, and for some reason, it upset my stomach. However, now that IVF2 is in sight, I may just take one for the team and try it again. I have also been reading about evening primrose oil, turmeric, and chasteberry. There comes a point where you need to draw the line with supplements. It can get pricey, and again, I’ll harp on the lack of scientific evidence to support their claims of effectiveness. I am currently attempting to figure out how many pills I really want/need to take each day.

Pinterest has been wonderful for finding recipes and food experimentation. My “Food” board on Pinterest is a mix of healthy and some not so healthy recipes. However, we have tried out most of the healthy recipes and miraculously haven’t hated any of them! Check out my Food board here. Please let me know if you have any questions. I would love to write a post about how we have finally found a way to cook in our house. We’ll see if I ever get around to it. 🙂

Environmental Toxins


I have tried to be pretty vigilant about avoiding products made with BPA. I used to drink SO much bottled water. Even when all of the BPA studies came out on baby bottles and plastic water bottles, I continued to drink from them, because it was convenient at the time. It may not make a huge difference, but I finally kicked the bottled water to the curb. I bought myself a Klean Kanteen, and I have never looked back.

I used to wear tampons from time to time. I have stopped that. Tampons are terrible for my endometriosis pain. I read up on the use of chlorine in feminine hygiene products. That kinda freaked me out, because as an endo girl, I use maxi pads like they are going out of style. I looked into reusable cloth pads (yes, they exist.) I decided I didn’t want to go that extreme, so I settled on these Chlorine Free Ultra Thin pads from Seventh Generation. I love them. I buy them at Whole Foods, and they are a little pricier than my old Stayfree with Wings pads, but I feel the extra money is worth it. I don’t like the idea of all those chemicals chillin’ with my vagina. Actually, looking into what your feminine hygiene products are made of is probably something all women should look into, not just those of us with endometriosis.

Meditation

On most days, I try to devote a little time (30 minutes or less. Usually less.) to meditation. I did four months of intensive acupuncture (one hour long appointments two to three times per week) and didn’t really feel like it helped me. I want to put that out there, because almost everything I read about increasing your fertility advocates for acupuncture. It may not be for everyone. It also may not be the magic pregnancy solution. My evidence for this claim: I did not get pregnant. Also, my endometriosis actually got worse following my treatments. I developed that humongous endometrioma and had to be rushed to the ER. Maybe it was a coincidence? I don’t know. My acupuncturist was also extremely expensive and not covered by insurance. Since moving on from acupuncture, I have found that meditation has been of great benefit. My anxiety has been somewhat controllable, and my energy levels are improving. I have tried to be as consistent as possible, however, some days, I just forget to do it. I do my best to forgive myself, and look forward to another day. I have found some great meditation music on YouTube, and haven’t spent a dime on my meditation efforts. Just yesterday I started Oprah and Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge. I am really excited for this opportunity, and hope to write another post about it when I finish the program.

Mental Break


As I mentioned above, I didn’t think I needed a break after IVF. This is because I was delusional. I have needed these past eight months very badly. I took a mental break from infertility. I set goals. I worked hard. I gave myself time to heal. I made peace with the fact that my whole “motherhood by age 30” idea was not going to happen. I had to let that go. I accepted the fact that if I ever get to be someone’s mom (whether at 30, 40, or 50) I would be so incredibly lucky. It is hard to rationalize a broken heart and let go of lost dreams, but I think I have done the best I possibly can. I try to connect daily with my gratitude for even having the chance to pursue another round of IVF. As much as it scares me to have to go through this intense process again, to me, it is worth every penny, and (quite literally) my blood, sweat, and tears. Having this down time was such an essential part of coming to these realizations and making peace with them.

Anyone else want to share tips, experiences, comments? Feel free!

 

thelessthandomesticgoddess

11 Comments

  1. Reply

    -J.Darling

    March 26, 2013

    FABULOUS entry!

    Love that you're meditating! I've found it supremely helpful where anxiety is concerned.

    Not sure if you've considered this, but I've found (and fallen in love with) Instead cups for my periods. They last a long time, I can work out in them, and I have ZERO pain, like I did with tampons.

    I found Birth Control to be my sanity as well for many years.

    I've also found that there are work outs I can do that seem to upset my endo less. Running is NOT one of them, but most strength training is. I can use it to get my heart rate up, it's low or no impact, and I can get my heart rate up still by doing them for time.

    It's so great to hear about the healthy balance you're finding! Looking forward to reading up on that dietary info! It couldn't hurt, right?

  2. Reply

    Christina

    March 26, 2013

    You seem to have a clear mind and a fresh perspective on things. But overall, it seems like you are on a promising start.

  3. Reply

    Jodi

    March 27, 2013

    Wow you've been through a lot. I'm sure this info you've shared will be really helpful to others w/ similar experiences. I think you are really brave for sharing! I really hope the next round of IVF works for you. I'll be praying for you! 🙂

  4. Reply

    thelessthandomesticgoddess

    March 27, 2013

    @J. Darling: It's funny that you mention exercise, specifically running, because I have found that running is TERRIBLE for my endo, too. It seems to exacerbate it and I usually have residual pain for days. I have been speed walking for years, because it is the only thing that elevates my heart rate and keeps the endo quiet. But I am pretty bored of it! I will try and incorporate more strength training into my workouts. We'll see if my temperamental endo tolerates it. Hahaha! Thank you so much for the tip!

  5. Reply

    Ashley

    March 28, 2013

    Thanks for this post. It was full of a lot of great info! I've read your blog for a while now, but it's become especially pertinent recently. My sister and I were both diagnosed with endo in the last month (after two years each of TTC) and we both have plans to do IVF this summer. In the meantime, I'm wading through the myriad of information out there on the internet about endo. I'm wishing you luck in your upcoming fertility treatments!

  6. Reply

    thelessthandomesticgoddess

    March 28, 2013

    @Ashley: Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I am really sorry to hear about your endo diagnosis (and your sister's, too) and your struggles with trying to conceive. I am sending you guys a lot of good thoughts for your upcoming IVF treatments! It's nice that you will be there to support one another. Support is such a key part of getting through IVF! Take care. 🙂

  7. Reply

    Joe and Christie

    April 2, 2013

    I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your honest, heartfelt writing. I did IVF twice (major sperm issues) and was blessed with two boys. You've been dealt a lousy hand and have come to terms with it–I admire your fortitude greatly!

    –Christie

  8. Reply

    Unknown

    July 28, 2016

    I just wanted to say that I appreciate you taking the time to share your story. I've been there sister! I've spent thousands on supplements and alternative medicine and nothing much has helped (although I found acupuncture amazing for clearing my skin and endo-related cystitis). But the one thing that has made the biggest difference is the Body Ecology diet. I recommend you do it wholeheartedly – don't get hung up on how strict it is. It the single most successful thing I have tried. I now make the homemade kefir and cultured veg and while I still have endo a lot of other nasty symptoms have subsided and I no longer feel toxic! Can't recommend it enough! Peace and love sistren!

  9. Reply

    Nicola31

    July 29, 2016

    Do the Body Ecology diet as strictly as you possibly can. It has helped me enormously in ways I could not have imagined. Thank you for sharing your story. It's reassuring to know us endo ladies are not alone. xxx

  10. Reply

    Unknown

    October 3, 2016

    Hi, your blog is truly inspirational. Can I ask what made you decide to go for pycnogenol instead of serrapaptase, nattokinase or vitalzym? There's so much of info out there that it can get very confusing!

    I just had my first round of IVF. I have an endo cyst on my left ovary and because of this; there weren't too many follicles on the left. I had very poor response to this IVF cycle. Only 2 eggs out of 10 follicles. I was devastated; 1 made it to embryo transfer but unfortunately, we didn't end up pregnant.

    The journey is indeed a struggle! Hugs.

  11. Reply

    Layla Forndez

    December 3, 2016

    I had endometriosis for 18 years and i never thought i would ever get a cure due to the terrible symptoms i had and this made it impossible for me to get pregnant even after 12 years of marriage and it was a serious issue. I got to know about Dr. Aleta who treated someone and the person shared a story of how she got a cure and let her contact details, i contacted Dr. Aleta and she actually confirmed it and i decided to give a try too and use her herbal medicine that was how my burden ended completely. My son will be 2 this december and i am grateful to God and thankful to her for medicine too. If you have (Endometriosis, PCOS, Fibroid, Ovarian cyst, Ectopic Pregnancy or any infertility issues) just reach her on (aletedwin @ gmail. com) she has professional advise and a cure too.

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