Stress, breast implants, and barriers to fertility
Trigger Warning: This blog and podcast episode mentions miscarriage, so please be mindful if you’re experiencing emotional trauma around this topic.
In this episode of What A Mouthful with Georgie Stevenson, I really wanted to hone in on her pre-conception journey. She had what we would think decades ago was a unique journey, but is a journey I am seeing and hearing about so much more in recent years.
Georgie Stevenson is the co-founder of Naked Harvest supplements, a health and fitness blogger, a YouTuber, a podcaster and a new mum to a beautiful baby girl.
I knew it was important for her to share her journey with me because so many women would be able to relate either themselves having health issues with breast implants, or knowing someone who has experienced a similar health journey.
Georgie has previously spoken about being plagued for years with fatigue. She initially attributed her fatigue to "having 2 successful businesses, working 12 hours a day, being a girlboss and the fact I love to workout”.
But Georgie soon realised that “symptoms of feeling tired, getting acne sometimes, and irregular periods”, and the fact her and her partner Tim couldn’t fall pregnant for months, was the catalyst to digging deeper around the health issues she was experiencing.
“I had been to naturopaths and doctors and everyone said that I am just too stressed and need to slow down and eventually it will resolve itself," she told me.
I asked Georgie how her health had impacted her pregnancy journey with potentially breast implant-induced thyroid issues that she’s spoken about on her socials for years.
“Growing up as a woman, we were told to use contraception because you’ll have sex once and get pregnant – so we’re told to be really careful," she said.
But the reality for Georgie, and so so many women who seek my help, is that falling pregnant is nowhere near as easy as we once thought it to be.
“After months of not getting pregnant we decided to get everything tested and the only thing that they could pinpoint was my thyroid which was under active. We decided to see an endocrinologist and there I was diagnosed with “Hashimotos” which is a disease of the thyroid," she said on the What A Mouthful podcast.
"I went on the thyroid medication which obviously didn’t help and that led me to looking into a lot of things. My endocrinologist had told me that I was basically 'infertile' at that point.
"I was told that my hormone levels that time will not sustain my pregnancy.
"My endocrinologist has also said that she didn’t believe that I actually had Hashimotos and so we came to a conclusion that my implants were mimicking an auto-immune disease because my body was attacking the implants.
"And it just makes me so sad thinking about those women who are struggling with infertility, who just don’t know that implants could be a possible barrier to their fertility."
As a specialist in women's hormonal health, I have spent many years in my 1:1 clinic dealing with intestinal permeability (or what we more commonly call ‘leaky gut’. It allowed me to gain a deep understanding of the potential syndromes, conditions and diseases that could develop over time when leaky gut isn’t addressed.
Interestingly, Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) has been linked to leaky gut, with inflammation being the issue possibly explaining the mechanism behind it.
So if you or someone you know has been trying to fall pregnant and experienced one or multiple miscarriages, this could be a place to start looking you might not have considered before.
That might mean you start with a simple food sensitivity test (also sometimes called food intolerance test) just to see if that’s an issue for you. Usually, the stress perpetuates the whole cycle and on top of that, if you are someone who has breast implants, it is important for you to consider making a decision in advance if you want to undergo an explant surgery before falling pregnant and breastfeed – as you will likely not have that option once you’re pregnant.
That's the route Georgie went down.
“I had my breast implants since I was 21 and decided to have I would have them removed," she said.
"I booked in my surgery and actually fell pregnant on that same month. I had a miscarriage which was a hard time for us wanting a baby for so long but looking back, I think it was all meant to be because that mean I can continue with my surgery and get my implants out.
"It was a good 6 months of healing and getting things sorted before I then fell pregnant again, now with my beautiful Ivy girl.“
In the baby bubble with a newborn however, it can be super tiring, and with the little time you have for yourself, it becomes the time where those who knew their bodies well prior to pregnancy, tend to cope better.
They typically have stronger nutrient stores, muscle memory, better digestion. Of course, baby’s temperament and other external factors could turn things on it’s head – but this is what I tend to see!
So for Georgie, I wanted to know – with the limited time she has, what healthy habits did she prioritise? What were her non-negotiables?
“I always get back to the basics.“
- Hydration – Am I drinking enough water?
- Movement – Moving not to burn fats or get a booty but for physical fitness and health and also mental health.
- Food – getting in fruits and vegetables and protein sources, making sure I am getting all the macro nutrients. I’m an 80-20 person, 20% where I just want to eat something for the taste and enjoyment but 80% of the time, I always think, “Is this is going to nourish me, make me feel good rather than sick, and also if this is convenient as a mum?
- Focus with mental health – through meditation, journaling once a day and some me-time!
Georgie also mentioned prioritising sleep (given!) and becoming a morning person (those are sacred times with a newborn).
Want to know what supplements she leaned on in her pregnancy and post-natal journey? Listen to the FULL episode to find out.