I was barely legal when a cold reproductive endocrinologist looked me squarely in my eye and told me that having children naturally was not in my future. She asked, maybe one or two, family history questions before she matter-of-factly diagnosed me. My mother who was in the room face broke. I’ve seen my mother handle a lot of things without ever changing her disposition, but those words hurt my mother to her core. My mother’s eye’s watered. I don’t know if I was still in shock, but I never gave a second thought to what the endocrinologist said.
Pre-Ovarian failure was my diagnosis.
In short, I would go into menopause early. What stage I was at, how long I had or if there could be something done was never the premise of the conversation. Just this is your diagnosis. You can’t have kids. Your uterus is healthy. Your ovaries are not.
Per usual, life plays these really sick jokes. I subsequently went to several gynecologists and reproductive endocrinologists. Once they had my medical diagnosis from the original reproductive endocrinologist, they would all agree. No further tests were needed. For all of my twenties, I walked around with the notion I couldn’t bear children. I led every potential relationship with that disclaimer. As I watched my peers conceive, I felt immense joy for them, but it was always something that tugged at me.
The effects of the bad news.
I continued to date and as I matured, the questions and comments became unbearable. "It's about time for you to make your father a grandfather.” “If you do not give that man a baby, someone else will.” “You know, you were put here to procreate. Those degrees mean nothing.”
I was rumored to be a lesbian (there is nothing wrong with this) because I didn’t have children. As a gentle reminder, I have always been in a heterosexual relationship. I’ve never dated women but because I didn’t have kids, a family member suggested that maybe I was a lesbian. He didn’t use that word exactly, but lesbian is the politically correct name.
My diagnosis finally caught up with me as I entered my thirties.
I accomplished everything I wanted and now the next phase was marriage and a family. I explained that to my then-fiancé. And so the journey began. Repeat visits to doctors. Repeat diagnosis with very little testing. “Take these birth control pills, use this birth control device. It’ll regulate your cycle.” There was nothing ever given to me about the hope of carrying a child with my egg. I would have depressive episodes that would take a toll on me and my relationship. I would not eat then overeat. I would smile, but two seconds away from completely breaking down.
I really wanted to birth my own child with my genes.
I felt I wasn’t being heard. I decided to change my doctor and found a young Black female gynecologist. She was a mother herself and very interested in her patients’ over health, not just reproductive health. She listened to me and proceeded to state that she wasn’t sure if I was in POF because I lacked the other physical signs. My skin was supple, my vaginal cavity presented moisture with ease amongst other things. Another concern for her was the fact I had a cycle nearly a decade later without taking birth control.
My hormones were abnormally low. While this suggested I may have POF, it couldn’t explain the absence of the symptoms. My doctor referred me to another young Black doctor who was a reproductive endocrinologist. Before I met her, I did a transvaginal ultrasound that revealed my ovaries possessed egg follicles. So to regulate my menstruation I wasn’t given birth control. I was given a medication that only caused withdrawal bleeds which helped with the shedding of the uterine lining.
Fast forward and I receive a call from my doctor who had been researching my symptoms. She told me I may have Resistant Ovarian Syndrome. This is where my ovaries decide when they want to participate. But with the correct therapy, she really felt that childbirth with my own eggs would be a possibility!
I researched the new diagnosis and realized the symptoms were more in line with mine. I was informed that whether I had POF or ROS, I had the option of therapies and one of them was stem cells. It showed great promise for women with my symptoms!
My journey isn’t over.
It's honestly in the beginning stages. However, I encourage you to find a doctor who sees you. Hears you and wants the very best for your well-being. And for those outsiders who inquire about women having children- STOP. You don’t know her struggle.