Last year I had the pleasure of interviewing Alyssa Chavez about her journey through the challenges of endometriosis and infertility. In this interview, she cries as she recounts the pain of losing her pregnancy and the difficulties of trying to conceive. In fact, both of cry as she discusses miscarriage and her repeated attempts to conceive and carry a child.
In her compelling story, she opens up about her path to an endometriosis diagnosis, the emotional trials of infertility and IVF, the pivotal role of her loving husband, the decision to pursue excision surgery for endo, and her current hopes of conceiving naturally. Alyssa’s mission now revolves around supporting and empowering women facing similar challenges, a testament to the strength that can be harnessed when one woman navigates her own personal adversity and is willing to share it with the world.
What Is Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a condition characterized by the presence of endometrial-like tissue that grows outside the uterus. As one might imagine, this causes excruciating pain. It can take a years for a diagnosis, and once diagnosed, there are very treatments available and even fewer experts to guide these treatments. Among the more successful treatments, is something called excision surgery, where the aberrant tissue is surgically excised laparoscopically.
In addition to the pain and suffering women with endometriosis experience, fertility can be challenging. According to the Center for Endometriosis Care:
"…stages I and II had a 60% chance of conceiving without surgical treatment; those with stage III had a 15-20% chance of conceiving without surgical treatment and those with stage IV did not conceive in that study."
Many women with endometriosis are simply unable to conceive or carry a child naturally. Some require assistance with things like IVF, while others may require surgical excision of the aberrant tissue before conception and pregnancy are possible. Again, according to the Center for Endometriosis Care:
"Other studies have also found that conception rates increase following surgical treatment of endometriosis. For those with stage I-II, the chances of conceiving after excision is between 80-85%, almost the same rate as if you did not have endometriosis. Those with stage III will have a 70-75% chance of conceiving and those with stage IV is between 50-60%."
Alyssa, required both.
A Painful Reality: Living With Endometriosis
Alyssa’s journey began in her late teens when she was experiencing severe pain during her menstrual cycles. Despite these excruciating symptoms that caused her to lose days every month due to pain, she initially encountered disbelief and was often told that her pain was “normal.” This experience is all too familiar to many women living with endometriosis.
Her relentless pursuit of a diagnosis and solution led her through countless doctor’s visits and interventions including cycle suppression via hormonal birth control. When she and her partner began pursuing pregnancy and she discontinued her hormonal birth control, her pain and digestive difficulties spiraled out of control. After years of negative pregnancy tests, IVF and a miscarriage, it became clear that she would need to tackle to the endometriosis surgically and undergo intense personal work to heal herself through nutrition before pregnancy would be possible.
Listening to Intuition: The Decision for Surgery
One of the hardest moments in Alyssa’s journey was her decision to undergo excision surgery to address her endometriosis. This decision was not made lightly, as her initial fertility doctor and another specialist both recommended against it. Their primary focus was fertility rather than the endometriosis itself. But after a miscarriage, Alyssa knew in her gut that something had to be done. She went against the advice of her medical team, and even defied her own logic of finding a natural cure, all based on her gut feeling that surgery was the correct path for her.
The pain (emotional and physical) and intuition led her to consult with an excision specialist who also considered her fertility goals. Her surgery ended up being extensive, with endometriosis found throughout her abdomen and pelvis, as well as adhesions binding her pelvic organs together. The procedure was longer and more involved than anyone had expected but has given her the relief that she desperately needed.
The Crucial Role of a Supportive Partner
Throughout her challenging journey, Alyssa was fortunate to find unwavering support in her husband. He proved to be the anchor in her life, offering love and encouragement every step of the way. Their shared experience of fertility struggles and the challenges of endometriosis not only deepened their bond but demonstrated how adversity can bring a couple together rather than tear them apart, as is so often the case.
Alyssa acknowledged in this interview that many couples experiencing fertility issues encounter additional strain on their relationship, as she and her husband also did. However, in their case, these challenges brought them closer together. The couple’s strength and determination allowed them to navigate the complexities of IVF and endometriosis with resilience.
Hope for the Future: Natural Conception
With her endometriosis surgically addressed and now armed with nutritional knowledge to heal her body systemically, Alyssa now looks to the future with renewed hope. The surgery, which removed binding adhesions and relieved her debilitating monthly pain, gives her hope that she now has an environment conducive to natural conception. IVF was physically and emotionally taxing as well as expensive, so she continues to heal herself with nutrition and supplements and now holds optimism for the future and a natural pregnancy.
Supporting Others on Their Journey
Alyssa’s journey transformed her into a passionate advocate for women facing similar challenges. She now offers one-on-one coaching to guide women through the complexities of healing endometriosis, hormones, and fertility from the inside out, with a focus on nutrition. Her holistic approach seeks to address the systemic causes, considers individualized needs, and aims to make wellness practices fit into everyday life.
By sharing her journey and empowering others to seek help, she hopes to break the silence and stigma surrounding women’s health issues. She has a thriving one-on-one coaching business as well as her podcast, The Endo Belly Girl Podcast.
Alyssa’s journey through endometriosis and fertility challenges stands as a bright light of hope and resilience for other women who are on the same path. The fact that her journey is not yet over makes her story so much more compelling and relatable! Her willingness to share her experiences is an invaluable contribution to the broader conversation surrounding women’s health and I am so grateful that she took took the time to speak with me so transparently. I invite you to listen in on this interview to learn more, and to be assured that you are not alone in your struggles with endometriosis, fertility, and systemic healing.