“I thought I would never have children”

“I thought I would never have children”

“I thought I would never have children”

Women diagnosed with PCOS share their fertility journeys. (Photo: Getty)

Fans celebrated when Keke Palmer announced in December that she was expecting her first child. After all, the 29-year-old has openly spoken out in the past about struggling with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOSa condition that a common cause of infertility.

Palmer’s message has raised many questions about PCOS and how difficult it can be for someone with the condition to conceive. PCOS doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant US Bureau of Women’s Health (OASH). However, the hormonal imbalance caused by PCOS interferes with the growth and release of egg cells, a process known as ovulation. And if you’re not ovulating, you can’t get pregnant.

But pregnancy can and does happen in women with PCOS – it may just be harder than in those who don’t have the condition, DR Priyanka Ghosh from Columbia University Fertility Center to Yahoo Life.

“While PCOS can make it difficult for some women to conceive, the good news is that with the help of a fertility specialist, we can usually treat this and help women have healthy pregnancies,” she says.

These women with PCOS were able to conceive, although each route to the baby is different. This is what it’s like to get pregnant with PCOS from women who’ve been through it.

“We had conversations about maybe we shouldn’t have kids.”

Emily Rodgers, a Florida teacher, was diagnosed with PCOS in 2015 and tells Yahoo Life her symptoms came on suddenly. “I went from being a normal, super-healthy, active person to gaining 150 pounds in seven months for no reason,” she says. Rodgers says she always had irregular periods, but it wasn’t until she gained weight and decided to have a baby that she was diagnosed with PCOS.

Rodgers said she was told to “lose the weight and you’ll be fine.” She then underwent six cycles of intrauterine insemination (IUI), in which doctors removed sperm from her husband and inserted it into her uterus during ovulation, over a period of three years before her doctor recommended she try it in vitro fertilization (IVF).

At that point, Rodgers said that she and her husband, who is also a teacher, “ran out of money” and “just accepted that it was going to take a while to save up for IVF.” “We’ve had conversations about maybe we shouldn’t have kids, and maybe being a teacher is our way of having kids,” she says. Rodgers and her husband eventually applied for the position PCOS Challenge Family Building Grant and actually got it. As a result, they received a free IVF cycle.

“It was so shocking,” Rodgers says of receiving the scholarship. “I didn’t expect something like this to happen to me.”

Rodgers and her husband began the IVF process in June 2020. She became pregnant in August but miscarried. The couple were no longer eligible for medical care under the grant, performed another embryo transfer on their own, and suffered another miscarriage before taking a break. On the next attempt, Rodgers became pregnant. Her son was born in October 2021.

“My husband and I have been very open about our history and our struggles,” she says. “My son, his smile – he heals every part of me.”

“I’ve been told I’m 50% less likely to get pregnant than other women my age.”

Iesha Vincent was diagnosed with PCOS in 2017 after trying to conceive with her husband for the first time. The Philadelphia resident tells Yahoo Life her diagnosis was made after undergoing ultrasound scans for irregular periods and difficulty conceiving.

Vincent, 31, says her gynecologist told her that she was “50% less likely than other women my age to conceive and without fertility support it was almost impossible for me to conceive spontaneously .” She took the fertility drug Clomid, which stimulates ovulation, for four months without success. Vincent says that she and her husband decided to try IUI, but at the same time she and her husband continued trying to conceive on their own.

“When I went for another ultrasound to check my ovaries, it was found that I was indeed pregnant,” says Vincent, who is now a mother to a 3-year-old boy. “We plan to try again for our second child in about a year and will be in touch with our fertility doctor,” she adds.

Her advice to other women with PCOS: “Don’t be frustrated and don’t feel like your body is betraying you. It may feel like being a mom wasn’t meant for you, but that doesn’t mean PCOS. It just means you have a different journey than others.”

“I thought I would never have children”

Many women with PCOS seek IVF and other fertility treatments to become pregnant. (Photo: Getty)

“I absolutely did not expect this pregnancy.”

Atlanta resident Sarah Cox was first diagnosed with PCOS as a teenager due to irregular periods. “When I was first diagnosed, I was so young that I wasn’t really given any information,” she tells Yahoo Life. “They immediately put me on birth control and said nothing about trying to conceive or any difficulty trying to conceive.”

The 35-year-old says her PCOS diagnosis was later confirmed by a reproductive endocrinologist she saw after missing her period while trying to conceive. “I had extremely long cycles, if I had any at all, so we couldn’t really try since I wasn’t ovulating,” she says.

Cox was put on fertility drugs and became pregnant with her son after a failed course of treatment. “This was followed by three losses, including a chemical pregnancy, a miscarriage, and a 32-week stillbirth,” she says. Cox and her husband also had a “rainbow daughter,” and she’s now pregnant with a surprise third baby. “After everything we went through to have my other two living children, I wasn’t expecting this pregnancy at all,” she says.

“I cried for three days. I thought I would never have children.”

Texas resident Candice Carter was diagnosed with PCOS at age 29 while struggling with weight loss. “I was a professional bodybuilder for 12 years,” she tells Yahoo Life. “I was preparing for a contest and the weight wouldn’t budge at all, even though I was eating very healthy and doing tons of cardio.” Carter says she eventually went to see a doctor, who diagnosed her.

Carter says her doctor told her to only worry about PCOS if she was trying to conceive. “I was scared,” she says. “I just got married and cried for three days. I thought I would never have children.”

Carter spent a year and a half trying to get pregnant before trying IUI. After two and a half years, she and her husband decided to start the IVF process. “We ended up getting pregnant while waiting for an IVF consultation appointment,” she says.

Carter’s son turns 2 this year. “I did a lot of research about PCOS and it helped me not to feel alone,” she says. “I found a community with PCOS Challenge that assured me that I could have children, it just might take longer than I thought. That really helped.”

“Over the past five years, my husband and I have gone through 15 rounds of fertility treatments.”

Maine resident Lynne DeGioia was diagnosed with PCOS in 2020 after experiencing irregular periods. “I could have two [periods] within a month or six months without a period,” she tells Yahoo Life. “I wasn’t ovulating regularly.”

The 32-year-old was advised to try IVF “because conceiving naturally was unlikely,” but she and her husband tried several fertility drugs and IUI before moving on to the more invasive procedure. “Over the past five years, my husband and I have gone through 15 rounds of fertility treatments,” she says.

“[IVF] was a huge financial drain on us since my health insurance doesn’t cover IVF-related medical treatment,” says DeGioia. “It ended up costing us about $30,000 out of pocket.” But, says DeGioia, she and her husband were “very lucky to get pregnant on their first round of IVF. Her daughter is now 5 months old.

“Stay optimistic, keep pushing forward… You’re going to have your miracle baby,” she says.

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