Endometriosis Diet: Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Soy Free…Vegan?

“Health is not valued until sickness comes.”
~Thomas Fuller

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I’ve recently started learning quite a bit more about nutrition, especially as it pertains to endometriosis and infertility.

While learning about meal plans to boost fertility, I had read, and been told on many occasions that the Mediterranean Diet was the way to go, because it increased nutrients from vegetables, and boosted Omega 3’s and other healthy fats, while increasing protein intake, and limiting red meats and other unhealthy fats.

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There are a lot of great article via the web, that talk about the benefits of this diet for all people, but especially for women who are hoping to conceive. There is even a good amount of research to substantiate the claim.

For the most part, I have been trying to eat this way, with marginal success. I certainly need to be more strict with myself when it comes to food and eating habits.

While I would still say that this lifestyle change is a great jumping off point for healthy eating and fertility, I have started to realize that for my particular condition, my diet should be much more strict.

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue and the endometrial lining grows in other areas of your body.  The endometrial flow becomes trapped and can lead to inflammation and pain. Because of this, most diets that focus on relief from endometriosis are anti inflammatory in nature.

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The more I looked into these proposed meal plans and lifestyle changes for endometriosis, the more certain I was that this plan was something that I should try.

It is certainly strict, and I am going to have to muster a lot more self control that I have thus far been able to, but hopefully it will all be worth it in the end.

If we are going to be spending upwards of $20,000 to attempt to get pregnant, I need to do everything within my power  to make sure that our first IVF attempt is successful.

I won’t jump into these changes all at once, however. When your body detoxes from anything, even things that are bad for you, it can make you sick. I might feel like I come down with a cold, or flu. I may actually get sick, as my immune system is slightly weakened by the detox.

My plan is to start with the elimination of dairy (a hard one for me because I adore cheese), and red meat (which I already only consume on a moderate basis). Of course, I will integrate the “Foods to Eat” section immediately.

I will document every step of this elimination on this blog using both photos, and videos. I will also attempt to answer any questions you all may have as I undergo this dramatic lifestyle change.

As of now, I will start with this plan as it is mostly laid out in the above info graphic, but I have also read accounts of women who owe their endometriosis relief to going completely plant based…and by that I do mean Vegan. I may explore that in the future, but for now I am going to still include poultry and fish in my diet.

Even if we are never able to get pregnant, I know that this lifestyle change is important. After all, my endometriosis causes more than infertility. It causes severe pain, bloating, bowl problems, nausea…and could even lead to cancer in the future. I have to get this under control for so many reasons other than a baby. For my family; for my husband and our future; and for me.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or are interested in more of the links and places I have gotten this information.

~Sam

Our Infertility Story: IUI Round Three

“Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!”

~Wicked: Stephen Schwartz

 

I’m not sure what changed, or when the change occurred exactly, but I am not the same person that started this blog four months ago.

Without a doubt, this infertility struggle has irrevocably altered me; altered us. No matter what happens next, I’m certain that many of the effects of that will linger for the rest of our lives. For example, should we be lucky enough to conceive, I’m sure I’ll always be a little more worried; a little more cautious than other women are during their first pregnancies. It’s more than that, though. I’m a stronger person than I was three years ago when we started trying to conceive; I am stronger person that I was four months ago when I started this blog.

When I began writing Ariadne’s String I was a broken, hollow, shell of my former self. I cried all the time, and had difficulty finding joy in even the best of days. I was drowning, and this blog became the only life line I could grab out for. During my first two IUI attempts, I don’t think I ever really believed I would get pregnant. I was anxious, paranoid, afraid to do anything that might mess up our chances.

Learning that I would have to undergo surgery terrified me, and I spent the month leading up to the procedure living in abject fear.

But I had the surgery, and it was successful. There were no complications, my endometriosis was not as advanced as it could have been, and my doctor was even able to successfully remove much of it. I came out of surgery a stronger person. Returning to work quickly post op, and feeling myself heal more every day made me stronger as well.

In the two months that followed my surgery, when I was recovering and healing and therefore could not undergo fertility treatments, my depression faded away. I’ve been happy, more relaxed, and I’ve felt more like my true self than I have in a long time. I think taking a break from treatment was good for my mental health. It was certainly helpful for my relationship with my husband. When I am a happier person, he is a happier person.

Just a few days ago, due a jolt of fear combined with hormones that always make me a little cranky, I wasn’t feeling very optimistic about starting treatment again. But the very next day I realized how much I’ve changed. I had surgery, and if the doctor thinks that will help, who am I to say it won’t? This realization made all the difference in the world going into our third IUI procedure this morning.

I cleaned the house last night, tediously creating a relaxation retreat in our bedroom; deep cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, organizing my office, and picking up the living room. I even organized the bathroom cabinets (something I have needed to do since we bought the house last March).

I started cleaning so that I could feel relaxed when we came home from the doctor’s office today, but staying busy also kept my mind off of the procedure and prevented me from feeling anxious.

I slept well last night, and when I woke at 6:30 I got dressed in my favorite maxi skirt, my “dauntless” bracelet, a fertility necklace (a gift from a former co-worker), and my new “Nevertheless, She Persisted” shirt. Because I will continue to persist in this as with many other things. 🙂


We had a bit of a wet ride into the clinic, but still made it with a few minutes to spare for Mark’s 8:00 appointment. He was called back after a few minutes, and I read Facebook and looked at the news from my phone while he was gone. After he came up we went to grab bagels and coffee while his sample was prepared.

I felt calm, relaxed, and completely at ease. We joked and laughed as we talked about work, our dog, and our plans for saving money if we get pregnant. Once back at the doctor’s we waited patiently as we looked at more news, and again laughed and made jokes about news reports, political memes, and our own lives.

I almost felt a little guilty. The office was pretty busy today, and a fertility clinic is not generally the happiest place. In the past when I have been there I’m usually quiet, reserved, anxious, and…probably a little intense. For our last IUI they were pretty late calling me in because they were super busy, and I totally lost my cool. This time I was called in nearly 40 minutes late and it didn’t bother me in the slightest. It was then that I realized my calm demeanor wasn’t an act. I felt so calm because I was actually calm. How strange.

When the doctor’s medical assistant came to get me, I hopped up eagerly to follow her. She led me into a room and told me that the doctor was still with a patient, but would be with me shortly. I got undressed and waited, while watching House Hunters Renovation on HGTV. More waiting, and I still wasn’t freaking out. Who is this person?

The doctor came in about ten minutes later. I was pleased to see him, and we talked for a minute and made a few jokes. Have I mentioned how much Mark and I both love our doctor? I told him that I was feeling much calmer and more relaxed than I ever have before. He could tell, and had already picked up on this fact. It was the first time he didn’t have to tell me not to stress out his eggs.

He looked at my chart and realized that we have been seeing him for a year. “One year,” he said. “We need to get you a baby.”

“Well, we have been trying for three years,” I said. “But we have been seeing you for a year.”

“Yes, but I’m all that matters,” he joked.

“Why does everything seem to revolve around the Mark’s in my life?” I asked (my doctor and my husband are both named Mark).

“That was funny!” The medical assistant laughed.

I laid back and we did the procedure. I was bracing for the pain, despite still feeling calm. I have a stenotic cervix, so this process always results in pretty bad cramping. The first IUI we did, the cramping was severe because it had been months since my cervix had been opened for our HSG. I was expecting this to be at least nearly that bad, since our last IUI had been way back in October.

I waited for the cramping and the pain to hit me, but it never did.

Don’t get me wrong, the procedure is no picnic and the catheter doesn’t feel awesome, but I never started cramping. After about a minute, I told the doctor and the assistant that I wasn’t feeling any discomfort for the first time.

“Your cervix wasn’t stenotic at all,” the doctor informed me. “You can jump Mark’s bones tomorrow,” he added with a smile as he walked out of the room.

“Lay here for ten minutes,” the assistant said as she followed the doctor out. “Call us with good news.”

I didn’t know what it meant that my cervix no longer seemed to be stenotic. Was it something that had been corrected via the surgery? Is that something that just goes away? I pondered this and many other things as I lay there in the dark. I was calm. I did some visualization exercises in my mind, and I wondered if this news about my cervix was a good sign.

Since I wasn’t in any pain, we headed to the grocery store after we left, and I picked up stuff to make my favorite British comfort foods on this dreary, English feeling day. We also grabbed lunch at our favorite diner.

I’m in a bit of pain now, but it isn’t from the procedure; it’s from my ovaries. The both feel a bit like they are being stabbed, though the pain on the right side is much worse. I don’t know if this means that an egg has been released, or if it is still in there and just big? Either way, I’m gonna relax a bit today, watch some movies, and make a huge pot of onion soup. If I feel up to it in a bit, I may even do some work.

I feel good. I’m hopeful, I’m calm, I’m excited. I know that this still may not work. I know that our odds of success are still not amazing, but I know that I prefer this happier, more positive self over the gloomy and moody version that had taken up so much of my time.

So I will wait. I will have a fun, relaxing, joyous two week wait, and if we don’t get pregnant this time…we will persist. Our story isn’t over yet. I think it may just be starting.

~Sam