Case History: Claire's story

In early 1996 I experienced dreadful pain on the left side of my stomach, which got worse mid-cycle and pre-menstrually, and I experienced some discomfort on intercourse. In March of that year, I was diagnosed as having pelvic inflammatory disease and was treated with antibiotics. The pain continued, but my husband and I were delighted to discover in September 1996 that I was pregnant. I suffered a miscarriage at 14 weeks in December that year, and after I had got over the immediate pain of that, my husband and I resolved to try to conceive again as quickly as possible.

In the spring of 1997, I was referred to a consultant gynaecologist because I was still suffering the same pain on the left side of my stomach, which a further course of antibiotics had not cleared up. I underwent a diagnostic laparoscopy and hysteroscopy in June 1997, which revealed extensive endometriosis and secondary adhesions, and which were divided and ablated by laser. I underwent further laser treatment in August and October of 1997 because I was still in pain, and was told that I had extremely aggressive endometriosis, and advised to conceive as soon as I could, because "a pregnancy would be ideal to settle things down".

Easier said than done, I thought! However, to our great delight, I conceived again in November 1997, but once again miscarried, this time at 10 weeks, in January 1998. After this second miscarriage, I resolved to try to do something about my endometriosis because conventional medicine was obviously not working for me. I read everything I could on the subject, visited every website I could find, went for acupuncture and decided to try nutritional advice.

I spent an hour with the nutritionist going over my history and my eating habits and then devised a healthy eating plan for me and a regime of supplements, which I was to take for one month and then review. We agreed that my endometriosis did not seem to be affected by wheat or dairy products, which many people are, so luckily I was not advised to cut them out, but simply to increase other foods. I increased my intake of fresh vegetables, fish, live yoghurt, eggs, berries, nuts and seeds; cut out citrus fruits, chocolate (as much as I could!) and caffeinated drinks; and cut down my alcohol consumption to less than 5 units a week. For breakfast I would eat (and still do) a chopped up banana and pear, covered in live yoghurt and sprinkled with nutty and seedy muesli. Lunch was salad with tuna or chicken, and dinner in the evenings was grilled fish or chicken with spinach, lots of garlic and herbs.

I was prescribed vitamin and mineral supplements to work with the immune system and aid reproductive function; and Evening Primrose and Fish Oils to aid hormone production and have an anti-inflammatory effect.

At the time I worked long, unsociable hours as a finance lawyer for a large US law firm, so had very little time to think about preparing food and making sure I had just the right ingredients. Now, I'm certainly no Jamie Oliver in the kitchen, but there are so many interesting things you can do with food nowadays, and preparing a tasty nutritious meal does not have to take forever -just remember to always use the freshest ingredients, it is snacking on things that is bad for you.

To our absolute joy, I became pregnant three months after my first consultation. The pregnancy was uncomplicated and stress-free (after I finally allowed myself to believe it when my consultant told me at 28 weeks that I was now carrying a viable foetus! that I was actually going to have a baby), and I continued my healthy eating habits all the way through my pregnancy. Our son Scott was born in June 1999, weighing a hearty 8lb 6oz, and at 15 months old is still thriving. Being diagnosed as having Endo is a blow to any woman, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I still concentrate on eating healthily.