Welcome to Fertility Fridays!
I was contemplating doing one mega post on fertility and then quickly realised that there is so much to cover on this topic that it deserves its own series. So, here it is. Post one of Fertility Fridays: my story.
It took 14 months, nine doctors, three blood tests, one trip to the emergency department, one ultrasound and countless misdiagnoses for me to discover that the excruciating pain I had been experiencing was caused by polycystic ovaries.
After that lengthy and stressful process, I was exhausted and at my wit’s end. My symptoms had gotten worse: my hair was falling out, I was moody and my period was MIA. I was almost constantly in pain and I had well and truly had enough. I had also spent enough time at various doctors’ clinics to realise that they didn’t have the answer I desperately needed.
They couldn’t tell me how to correct the imbalance. I should make it clear that I don’t think the doctors deliberately mislead me. Far from it. They just didn’t have the framework that I needed to find a solution, as opposed to a bandaid. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for bandaids. I think they’re a fabulous invention. Sliced your finger open? Whack on a bandaid. Popped a blister? A bandaid is your best mate. Fix your ovaries? Maybe not.
I’m all for bandaids. I think they’re a fabulous invention. Sliced your finger open? Whack on a bandaid. Popped a blister? A bandaid is your best mate. Fix your ovaries? Maybe not.
I turned down the doctor’s suggestion of putting on a bandaid (aka, going on the Pill) and, in doing so, closed the book of options that the conventional medical field could offer me.
Not being one to easily accept defeat, I decided to give naturopathy a go. I was lucky enough to quickly get a booking with, who I consider to be, one of Melbourne’s best naturopaths. He immediately suggested that I strip my diet back to basics and cut out all processed, refined, acid-forming foods for a month. I needed to give my abused body a break so that it could start to repair itself.
I needed to give my abused body a break so that it could start to repair itself.
At the same time as overhauling my diet, he put me a strong probiotic to help eliminate any candida and sort out the gut issues I was experiencing.
The ultimate goal of all of this was to reduce the estrogen build-up in my body (a common problem in our plastic-obsessed Western world). It turns out that my issues were stemming from my bowels. My body was so overloaded with toxins that my bowels simply weren’t able to keep up with getting rid of them all.
OK, let me back up a couple of steps and explain what I’m talking about. During every woman’s cycle, the body builds up a store of estrogen. This additional estrogen should then be expelled via bowel movements. If your bowels aren’t working properly, they can’t get rid of all of that estrogen, which means it gets absorbed back into your body. The cycle will continue to repeat itself every month unless the issue is corrected.
This overload of estrogen wreaks havoc on your endocrine system (your whole body, really) and can contribute to issues like polycystic ovaries and endometriosis. I’m not saying it’s the only cause of these issues but in my case it certainly played a big role.
When the month was up and I was free to return to my old diet, I found that a lot of the food I used to eat held no appeal. While I eased up on some of the really strict guidelines (like no high-sugar fruits, such as mangos), I largely stuck within the parameters and my body repaid me in spades. My period came back, my hair stopped falling out and my PMS almost completely disappeared. These results were far better than anything I imagined possible. One of the symptoms of polycystic ovaries is inconsistent ovulation (and hence periods) so I was beyond thrilled when my cycle fell into a 28-day pattern. Yep, you read that right: thrilled. Anyone who has suffered from irregular, or completely absent, periods will know what I mean.
Over the course of the following six months, I worked with my naturopath to bring my body back into balance and I learned so much about how to protect my fertility – not because I wanted to have a baby (fertility is about so much more than that) but because protecting my fertility meant I was protecting my health. And in my eyes, that was (and still is) my number one priority. There are so many things I want to achieve in my life and to do that, I need a healthy body. Fertility is just one, albeit very important, part of that.
There are so many things I want to achieve in my life and to do that, I need a healthy body. Fertility is just one, albeit very important, part of that.
I look back now and I’m glad that I developed polycystic ovaries because it was the catalyst for so much change in my life. I benefit every day from what I learned during that intense period of healing. It completely changed my perspective on a lot of things and it helped put me on the path I’m following today, and for that I’m incredibly grateful.