I originally wrote this as a guest post about infertility and endometriosis for www.notjustabeautyblogger.com, but I wanted to share it on Heal Endo as well. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to say in so few words. For anyone who’s had trouble in the baby-making department, there’s always too much to say about health, stress, finances, relationships, and the loss of the feeling of something sacred. But this is my own story, and one I’m passionate about spreading because it proves that even the most stubborn bodies can eventually carry a child … if you give it everything it needs.
First off, my name is Katie and I’m a recovering endo-sister. That’s what we often refer to ourselves as in the endometriosis world: endo-sister, endo-warrior, endo-strong. We have to, really, because this incredible community of women is facing seemingly impossible odds - an illness of chronic, debilitating pain, often causing infertility, often requiring recurring (poorly done) surgeries, with one big, bad tag line: No Cure. We have to label ourselves “strong” so we don’t fall apart with the weight of it all.
My fertility journey never involved IVF or other medical fertility interventions, but at the same time I dealt with a body that was unable to get pregnant for over 2 years. The amazing thing is: eventually I did, and the pregnancy so far has been a relative breeze. It’s a story that involved a lot of deep nutritional work that is very different than the “fertility diets” we often see around the net. It was the first time in my life I learned I needed to eat as much as possible to heal my nutritional deficiencies - of the right foods of course - and move better so that blood actually made its way down to my pelvis.
This journey had another side affect, it actually healed my endometriosis. After 8 years of excruciating pain, 2 surgeries, a successful business down the drain, and lots of sadness and isolation … the clouds lifted. Even without any specialized surgery, my endo pain eventually faded away, as did all of my other symptoms (like my falling apart joints, debilitating fatigue, enormous bloating, and muscle wasting). It was such a miracle I felt like ET had healed me with his finger. Yet, in reality there was no miracle. This was a real, calculated protocol that healed me, and is the reason I’m doing what I am today to help women with no hope get back on their feet. I like to say you may not be able to cure endometriosis, but you can heal it.
How I eventually achieved a natural pregnancy after 2+ years is a story that should offer ideas to many women of all walks of life to help conceive the miracle baby we all so want. What I learned, and now am helping other women do as a Nutritional Therapist, is that the entire body is connected, and by healing the deficiencies, the cracks, and the weaknesses, we can actually create warrior bodies from our previously ailing shells. And these bodies, now strong, relaxed, and filled to the brim with nutrients, are finally ready to conceive.
If you want to read all about the 4 factors that healed my endo and how I achieved fertility, my entire site at is dedicated to just that. In the meantime, I tried to condense a few important lessons learned from my fertility journey into these 8 tips to help everyone, no matter where you are on your fertility journey.
1) Understand what infertility looks like
Funny enough, when we’re trying to get pregnant we can often overlook our own body’s signs of fertility or, if they’re not present, what we can refer to as signs of infertility. A perfect example is cervical fluid, which should be clear, sticky, and somewhat dripping around your peak ovulation days. This is referred to as EWCM (egg white cervical mucous), and if you don’t have it your body is sending you a major sign of infertility - i.e. that it’s not ready for pregnancy.
Another sign of infertility is spotting in the days leading up to your period, which is most often caused by progesterone deficiency. Because there’s not enough progesterone to build up the uterine lining, it starts to shed prematurely. That means even if there’s a fertilized egg ready to implant, there’s no bed for it to land on, and no pregnancy occurs.
Of course there’s other issues as well. If you have severe PMS, it’s a sign of hormonal imbalance that can directly affect conception. Another subtle sign might be that you don’t feel particularly sexual around ovulation time, which is evolutions way of nudging you towards your man during peak fertility days.
There are quick-fixes for many of these issues: use Pre-Seed lubricant to mimic the EWCM you’re supposed to have, or use progesterone cream to stop the pre-menstrual spotting. These might be quick fixes for some but, if your body is as depleted as mine was, you should instead view these signs as a symptom of a body out of balance and not yet ready for pregnancy.
But don’t worry! All of these issues can easily be addressed through deep nutritional work, and often stress reduction. Indeed, most of my clients deal with more than one, and I personally dealt with all of them, yet reversed them in due time so we could put the progesterone cream aside. If you understand these signs from your body as signals it deficient in something (or many things) then you can do the footwork to give it what it needs so that it’s ready to carry a child. And, as you fix these holes in your life, you’ll notice a direct impact on your fertility signs.
Remember, infertility is not a life sentence. It’s more of a guiding force of biology that can be mended with the right balance of inputs. Which is why you should…
2) Find your "cracks", then mend them
I so wish I could here list the 10 foods that will get you pregnant, but the truth is there is no magic pill that works for everyone. No two bodies are the same, even the closest of sisters. This is why one woman’s journey to fertility will be totally different from another woman’s, including types of fertility diets, supplements, exercise, etc. Some women, for example, can clear up infertility by cutting out all excess carbohydrates and teaching their bodies to burn fat as fuel. Others will take a lot more work, healing nutritional deficiencies, balancing hormones, fixing the gut. Some women need to move more, some need to exercise less intensely, some need to simply cut their sitting time in half to start bring blood and nutrients back to the pelvis.
It all depends on your own body, genetics, and lifestyle! So don’t give up if Martha got pregnant after eating more vegetables and you’re still stuck in a holding pattern no matter how many salads you eat. Honestly, your issue could be not enough fat and cholesterol (the precursor to all sex hormones)! That’s why following Martha’s diet will not only not get you pregnant, but could even make it harder in the long run. Often there’s a real, very unique key to each individual case of infertility needed to unlock the core of that fertility issue, you just need to follow the clues to find it.
What are the clues? If you have PCOS it’s probably blood sugar control. If you have heartburn, acid reflux, eczema, skin issues, bloating, it’s probably related to digestion. If you have a lot going on all-the-mother-f*n time it could be way too much stress. If you’re like me it could be, like, 10 different big things. The goal is to check in with your own body, find your own cracks, and mend them.
Even better, work with a specialist who can help you see your cracks and work with you to mend them so your more quickly conception ready! Never underestimate the power of a specialist. It took me 2 years to heal my fertility on my own, but if I had worked with a Nutritional Therapist at the beginning I bet it would have been 1/4 of the time.
3) You may need surgery
This advice goes out to my au natural girls who don't want surgery, and I wish I could say you never have to consider one! But, if you have endometriosis and deal with infertility and haven't had a surgery, you may need to consider one. You also may need to consider one if it's been a while since your last surgery, since endo can grow back. It's incredible what doctors can find inside a woman when they go in, even a woman with minimal pain: lots of adhesions, cysts, a "frozen pelvis", endometriosis everywhere. A body like this most likely won't be able to carry a pregnancy, anatomically speaking, until the pelvic function is restored.
4) Create your own Lumahai
There’s a saying here on the north shore of Kaua`i that, when someone gets pregnant, they must have been swimming in the Lumahai river. This river is mellow, beautiful, cold, and connects straight to the ocean like a fertility oasis. It’s just a saying, but carries the obvious connotation that a body in relaxation - soft and sensual and languid - wants to carry a child.
How can you create a Lumahai river no matter where you are? Sometime’s it’s as simple as slowing down (or heck, stopping altogether), rather than doing more can be harder than it sounds. I see a lot of women, dealing with infertility or not, who keep adding “stuff” to to their to-do lists to be a successful, capable, 21st century woman: keeping their jobs at full speed, trying to keep of the excess pounds, worrying about body image, finances, extra curricular’s, keeping a nice house, fashion, staying on top of all the responsibilities, and now infertility?! For these women that often means adding even more in to supposedly help the infertility, like chiropractic, meditation, yoga. More upon more upon more into an already hectic life.
If this is you, ask yourself if you’re okay with not being #1 for a while, or at least this vision you have of what #1 looks like. To calm down the proverbial “lions” chasing you at every step, it’s best to cut back on everything: on work, on doing stuff, organizing that closet this weekend, on doing high intensity exercise, on worrying about your thighs, on making your birthday party “Pinterest perfect”. Even potentially on doing that extra yoga class or learning to meditate or taking that infertility class. Sometimes you just have to STOP.
I see many tourists come to Kauai wound up as tight as yo-yo’s without even realizing it … even the yogi’s! Yet, they all slowly relax over the course of their vacations doing absolutely nothing - there’s really nothing to do on Kaua`i but chill - into dramatically different people. That’s what you want to do, relax the yo-yo, no matter where you are. This may involve yoga and massage, or it may just be you cutting the cords on all negligible activities/thoughts you don’t need in your life right now.
For a moment love yourself truly, your strengths and your weaknesses, your softness instead of your abs, your nurturing side rather than your go-get-um attitude. Imagine the Lumahai river and be that beautiful Kaua`i goddess swimming in it, shedding the excess worries that really, once you get down to it, are often more trivial than they seem.
5) Cut out ALL coffee and ALL alcohol (do I need to mention cigarettes?)
This one is plain and simple, and no matter who you are you can benefit from this very specific tool. I remember researching how caffeine affects fertility and I was always satisfied when I found the fertility sites that say no more than 2 cups of coffee/day is okay, which gave me comfort in my 1-2 cup/day addiction. But, if you have a sensitive body (which you do if you’re struggling to conceive) cut the crap. Indeed I finally did this in totality the month I finally conceived, and I wasn’t even drinking either in excess by any means.
That not to say this will be your silver bullet as well, but for me it was one of my proverbial “lions”, causing my body undue anxiety without me realizing it. Come on, you can do this, you’d have to anyways once you got pregnant. Cutting coffee by some estimates can increase your chances of conception as much as IVF. As for alcohol, it takes a big toll on your liver which you need to keep in tip top shape for a healthy conception and pregnancy.
Can’t handle the idea of life without coffee or alcohol? Well there you go, you found one of your cracks! Figure out why. For example, if it’s because you have no energy, your adrenals might be burnt out, you have too high stress levels, or nutritional deficiencies. Or, if you feel you need alcohol to socialize, perhaps it’s time to find some friends you can spend quality time with without feeling the need to booze. Remember, follow your own clues to uncover the source of the issue.
6) Make sure you’re digesting your food
This sound obvious, but if you’re not digesting your food it doesn’t matter what food you're putting on your plate. Even the most expensive cold-pressed fish oils, organic veggies, grass-fed liver will go to waste if you’re not producing enough stomach acid to break them down, or have a properly functioning liver and gallbladder to assimilate the fats. I recommend working with Nutritional Therapist to help you see just how well your digestion is functioning, or if you want to take matters into your own hands you can consider doing a GAPS style diet for 30 days to calm down any internal inflammation you may have.
Oh, and don’t underestimate this step. You can very easily be stuffed, yet starved, and a nutrient starved body will prioritize keeping you alive long before it allows for another mini to come into the picture.
7) Don’t define yourself by infertility
Your mental powers are akin to Obi Wan’s, whether you believe it or not. Not sure? Ok, then repeat to yourself from morning to dusk “nobody likes me” and see how you feel at sunset: pretty lousy and alone I’ll bet! (P.S. don’t actually do that). See, that’s what repeating the word “infertility” to yourself does as well. It tells your mind exactly what you are, and if you’re telling it it’s infertile, guess what? Yup, it’s not going to think of itself as a buxom, baby-making machine, that’s for sure.
I see this a lot now, though, women starting IG accounts and blogs about their infertility. Don't get me wrong, I’m not against anyone who decides to share this journey with the world, not at all! It’s simply the wording the concerns me. I recommend that any woman who has started to refer to herself as “infertile” quickly remove that word and insert a new phrase. Try something like “on a fertility journey” or “mending my fertility”. Like I said, there’s often real reasons your body isn’t getting pregnant and infertility is the symptom, rather than the root cause. Focusing on the infertility itself, month after month, will get you no where if you don’t follow the clues to why you’re experiencing this symptom.
If you have trouble doing this on your own, there’s a cool meditation program called “Circle and Bloom” that offers short 10-15 minute daily meditations for each day of your cycle to help put your mind in that fertile state, a state that truly and honestly believes you can get pregnant. If you’re having a hard time staying positive, this is a great method to help!
8) It takes 3 months, you too hubby!
It takes three months for an egg to fully mature, just the same as it takes for sperm to fully develop. Interesting huh?! That means what you guys did three months ago affects the health of your egg and sperm now. That’s why fertility prep plans are usually 3 months long, because it gives the perfect amount of time for your little donations to meet, greet, and make a baby. That’s why it’s extra important to commit to three whole months of womb and sperm care before you get down ;)
If you’ve either been trying for a long time or are planning on starting, I would recommend taking a 3 month hiatus to build up both of your bodies. And truly build them up! It’s easy for women, I think, who’ve been following “diets” for so many years to see a typical “fertility diet” as another strict list of foods to cut out. Nope, I want to see you add them all in.I want to see you eating lots and lots of healthy fats (grass fed butter, avocado oil, olive oil, flax oil, etc), quality grass-fed proteins, cold water fish, pastured eggs plus as many yolks as you can, organic veggies, and raw (yes raw) milk.
If you want more information about all these foods and why they’re included in the nutrition task force for your womb and sperm, check out my list under the “Foods” section of my site. They’re all there.
As an added bonus, building yourself up nutritionally now will equal less trouble with your pregnancy. We fertility-challenged don’t think about the pregnancy until it finally hits, and it definitely hit some of my friends reeeeeally hard. Like morning sickness every day until birth. Talk about awful! Did you know you can prevent this through consumption of a properly prepared, nutrient dense diet before pregnancy? My whole life I was a hormonal wreck, but since I prepared my body with an optimal diet before conception I haven’t had a speck of morning sickness, nausea, heartburn, indigestion, pain, insomnia, excess hunger/craving, or other ailments that often accompany pregnancies. It could be luck … or it could be the half pound of grass-fed liver I eat every week. Just saying ;)