Food is Medicine: My Journey to Reproductive Health

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In the spring of 2013, my husband Chris and I decided we were maybe ready to start a family.  Fast forward about a week after we made that decision, and I became pregnant.  It happened so fast, I wasn't ready, I cried.  A lot.

If I knew what a positive impact this little person was going to have on my life, I wouldn't have cried so much.

He's taught me that my body is powerful, resilient and strong. He reminds me daily to celebrate life, and that laughter is the best medicine. He's retaught me that the simple things are the most special; the sunshine, new experiences, people we love. 

He reminds me to be fearless, to immerse myself in the people and things that bring me joy, to find passion and excitement in each day. The true meaning of patience, and the power of a good nights sleep. 

He's the drive behind my health coaching business, my health journey, and my vision for the future. He's the reason I continue to push outside of my comfort zone.  He is truly the light of our lives.

 

We weren't in any hurry to grow our family after Ziggy, but I felt certain that all we would need to do to make it happen is make the decision.  It turns out I was wrong.

I waited until he weaned from nursing, around 1 year postpartum, to begin taking birth control again. I had always done well on the pill, and figured it would be no different postpartum.  It turns out a lot changes hormonally after growing a human from scratch.  I was an emotional roller coaster, and experiencing a string of strange symptoms.  My skin was dry and itchy and my hair was falling out in clumps.  There were days that I was debilitatingly exhausted, which I chalked up to being a working mom who was building a business in the background.  

In December of 2015, I had a root canal, with an antibiotic to follow.  My existing symptoms worsened, and I began to experience chronic mouth sores, deep boils on my face, as well as extreme digestive discomfort.  It was time to see a doctor.  All of these symptoms had to be linked together in some way.


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My dermatologist recommended a topical cream for my dry, itchy skin.

My PCP tested my thyroid.  When the test came back normal, she recommended counseling, and also offered antidepressants as an option.  

An ER doctor prescribed me stool softeners for my digestive discomfort.

No one seemed to think that any of my symptoms were related to one another.  So, in February of 2016, I decided to stop taking birth control, hoping that my symptoms would subside, or at least lessen.  But instead, another was added to the list...


March passed, and then April, and my period never returned.  I went to see my widwife for my annual check up and expressed my concern.  She wasn't overly concerned about my missing cycle, as it can sometimes take a few months for a woman’s cycle to re-regulate after birth control..  

So, I didn’t stress about it, until May passed, and then June.  Still no period.  My midwife ordered a blood panel, to find that my estrogen was low.  

 
Low estrogen  no ovulation  no period.  
 
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She, again, prescribed time, suggested that we retest my hormone levels in 6-8 weeks, and I waited.

While I waited, I thought about the possibility of our family being complete.  Maybe this was it? Just 3 of us.  Maybe another baby won’t be an option for us.  I’m not sure how I envisioned it, but it certainly had to be by choice.  I began to question the positive lifestyle changes I had made--maybe I should just go back to smoking a pack of cigarettes and decompressing with a half a bottle of wine again every other day--I seemed to be healthier when I was doing those things!  Wtf!

 

 

 

 

August came, and I had my bloodwork run again only to find that my estrogen was moving in the wrong direction--it had lowered.  I was referred to an endocrinologist, and made the first available appointment in early October.

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By this time, I was feverishly researching my symptoms.  Even though the doctors I had seen didn’t seem to see a connection with my symptoms, I was certain that there was.  I spent hours reading cited articles, blog posts, medical publications.  I watched YouTube videos and listened to stories of others that had similar symptoms.  

 

And, while I waited for my first appointment, decided to do a 21 day elimination diet. During the process, my period returned for the first time in 7 months.

Slowly but surely, my other symptoms began to dissipate.  The mouth ulcers stopped.  My skin cleared up.  My hair stopped falling out.  My skin regained moisture.  I had energy again.  I didn't have pain and bloating after eating, and my digestion re-regulated.   

The chronic fatigue, the ups and downs, all of it. 

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When I saw the endocrinologist in October, I explained everything, and told her that I believe I had found food to be the underlying cause to my issues. She didn't seem convinced, so ordered a full metabolic panel of bloodwork, as well as hormones.  

For the first time since it all began, my bloodwork showed that estrogen was back to a normal level.  The numbers indicated that I wasn’t only just having a cycles again, but that I was also ovulating.  Regulating everything continued to be a work in progress, but every day was a step closer.


Hell.  Yes.


So, what have I learned through all of this?  That all bodies are different.  That all bodies change.  That what's always worked won't always work.  That food IS in fact medicine.  That bringing it back to what we know is REAL food has the ability to heal.   

My hope is by sharing my story, ONE person will get closer to finding their answer. 

 
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Here's the thing, guys. You have to do you. And YOU know your body better than anyone.  Without you, nothing else happens.  It may require work, and it may even require giving up things that you love (pizza and beer, OMG!)  but I promise it is worth every ounce of your energy. It's just about having the courage to start.

I always believed in the power of food as medicine.  It has the ability to make or break us; the power to be used as preventative medicine, or even as a tool to reverse adverse effects on our health.  If this resonates with you, please, reach out.  Creating a community of women who support one another on this journey is instrumental to our progress and healing!

 

xo sarah