Editor’s Note: Constipation after egg retrieval is common, as a side effect of either or both the progesterone you’re given and the sedative during the procedure. RDN Elizabeth Shaw shares how to alleviate the discomfort.
If trying to get pregnant isn’t challenging enough, we lucky women going through infertility treatments get blocked in yet another frustrating way: So…let’s talk about constipation!
I can’t say this is the coolest topic I’ve ever addressed, but it’s an issue anyone trying to conceive can relate to.
As many of you know, the intensive medication regimen, followed by low activity, and an insane amount of stress could leave you plugged like your grandpa.
Truth be told, I have been constipated nearly all my life. I had my first colonoscopy at 20 and was warned, “When you try to have kids, this will likely only get worse.”
That doctor was right!
After my egg retrieval for IVF, I experienced what was by far the worst (physical) pain yet on this journey; 14 days without a bowel movement coupled with multiple punctures to the ovaries from the extraction. Compaction plus puncture wounds aren’t fun, to say the least.
I tried nearly every drugstore remedy I could find to get my system working and unfortunately after so many meds plus stress and anxiety of the egg retrieval, I was blocked.
I write from experience, and as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I share my expertise.
What’s a woman to do when she’s had it up to here with Exlax, Miralax, and Milk of Magnesia?
I hit the books and consulted colleagues to find relief, and luckily I did – with natural remedies.
Here are 5 natural ways that I and other diet and nutrition professionals offer to ease your constipation woes during fertility treatments.
- Drink more water.
More times than not, we don’t drink enough water. Water is really the missing link in a majority of constipation cases. In order to get your system moving, you need to loosen up the tough stool that is blocking your colon. According to the Institute of Medicine, women should aim for approximately nine cups per day (more, if you exercise or feel thirsty). Not a plain water fan? Try fruit sweetened water instead.
- Eat more fiber in full meals.
Fiber is a great tool to help activate the digestive system and helps with transit time (i.e., moving the fecal matter through your gastrointestinal (GI) system). Focus on at least 25 grams of fiber per day. This Red Lentil Chili is a great way to set you up to meet those goals!
- Supplement your diet with prunes and chia seeds.
Amber Ketchum, RDN, says that the magic ticket to easing constipation is her secret smoothie weapons of prunes and chia seeds. Prunes contain sorbitol, a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that absorbs water and helps to move food through your GI tract. Chia seeds are a great source of fiber, making this a winning combination! Try this smoothie and add prunes and chia for a great boost to ease your constipation.
- Increase your flax consumption.
Sarah Koszyk, RDN, also recommends ground flax seed as a great way to keep your system running smoothly. Adding a tablespoon into your yogurt helps not only to add heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids to a fertility fueling diet, but also fiber, too! Sensing a theme here? I thought so! Try these flaxseed ideas!
- Try a magnesium supplement.
First things first: Always talk with your doctor about any additional supplements besides a prenatal vitamin to ensure it won’t mess with other meds. If OK’d by your doc, I’ve found a magnesium supplement to do the trick when all else fails. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for females of childbearing age is 310 mg. Talk with your doctor about the dosage that is right for you.
Remember, fertility is a trying time as it is. Don’t let your system get bogged down further during this process!
Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, Nutrition Communications Consultant at Shaw’s Simple Swaps, Fertility Nutrition Expert at BumpstoBaby.com, co-author of Fertility Foods.
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