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Infertility woes a silent struggle

Last updated 11:59 09/05/2016
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At 18, my now husband and I had just moved to Melbourne and were in no position to think about starting a family, writes Claire Wolfe.

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My journey with infertility began when I was 18-years-old.

I had to have emergency surgery, which led to the discovery of endometriosis. This was in 2012, and I was given very little  information or advice about how to live with this disease or even what it meant  other than being told that getting pregnant would make it go away.

 At 18, my now husband and I had just moved to Melbourne and were in no position to think about starting a family.  However, a year went by and I was getting sicker. I saw countless doctors who prescribed everything from blood thinners to Endone for pain.

During this time I turned to creating videos on YouTube, as I had spent a lot of my sick time in bed watching videos of others sharing their experience living with endometriosis, and I felt I had finally find somewhere I could seek support and share my own journey.

Shortly after I turned 19, I was so sick and desperate I turned to alternative therapies, trying acupuncture, a naturopath and eventually stumbled across a great integrative doctor who practiced a mix of western and holistic medicine. 

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This bought me a diagnosis of Adrenal Fatigue, as well as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). This explained my incurable exhaustion, weight gain, headaches, irregular cycles and mood swings.

I had a Saline Infusion Ultrasound, which also discovered uterine septum and bicornuate uterus. All of this was such a lot to deal with.

A uterine septum is a form of a congenital malformation where the uterine cavity is partitioned by a longitudinal septum; the outside of theuterus has a normal typical shape.

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Being told that conceiving would be difficult and risky was devastating news. No one in my life understood the struggles my partner and I were going through. No one except the supportive network of women I had met through YouTube, from all over the world. They provided me with advice, support and encouragement when I needed it. 

After a long, and grueling year and a half wait for surgery to remove my uterine septum, I continued to suffer living with chronic illness, and made a lot of changes to my diet, lifestyle and stress management regime which bought me a lot of relief. I shared these tips I was discovering on my YouTube channel, and built friendships with others on a similar path.

The biggest takeaway I have from living with PCOS and Endometriosis, both which there is very little known about, and not a lot in the way of a cure or management, is to take my health into my own hands. It was up to me to proactively make changes in my life, and try a variety of diets, supplements, exercises, and restrictions to find out what worked for my body.

If I had only listened to what doctors were telling me, I would still be on pain medication. Living with chronic illness can be lonely, tiresome and unfair - but through this experience I learnt so much about my own body, looking after myself and to question more about nutrition and importance of stress management than I ever would have. 

After my surgery in 2015, which removed my uterine septum, and treated stage 3 endometriosis, I continued my path of lifestyle changes, and fell pregnant in December after three years of infertility.

My journey brought me to my path to becoming a doula, a birth support and childbirth educator. I discovered my passion for women's health and empowering women to not let their health be something that happens to them, but something they take an active role in. Now I am very gratefully expecting my first child, and continue to share my journey on my YouTube Channel.

Without the support and encouragement of the women and friends I made through YouTube, I don't know if I would have had the courage to push through all the hard times.

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