This is the story of 30-year-old Emma. According to gynecologists, she was in early menopause, but she had a strong wish for a second child. That seems like an insurmountable dilemma. Fortunately, gynecologist Anne-Mieke Omtzigt crossed her path. She also tells her story about Emma’s situation.
A desire to have children and early menopause sound like an unfortunate combination from which no winners can emerge. It was a combination for me that I had never even thought about. In fact, I didn’t even know it existed.
Until I got a call from the gynecologist in December 2021 and she said, ‘It looks like you’re entering premature menopause. I know you have a child’s wish, but prepare yourself that the chance of this is very small.’ My world collapsed. At that time I was 30 years old, mother of a daughter of almost 1.5 years old and had a great wish for a second child to make our family even richer. The questions ‘how is this possible?’ and ‘what now?’ came right up to me, like a torrent of tears.
I went to the doctor to talk about my irregular menstrual cycle and a few weeks later I was told that I was probably in the early stages of premature menopause. From follow-up interviews and blood tests it became clear that I was not yet in menopause, but would be in the short term. No statements could be made about the exact time frame. The reason why I had this was not clear and there was no treatment I was told. Follow-up testing at a university medical hospital confirmed the diagnosis and indicated that my Hashimoto autoimmune disorder may have played a role, but this was not scientifically proven.
However, they saw this diagnosis more often in women with such thyroid disease. The mark was made: a healthy 30-year-old woman in the early stages of early menopause with less than a 5 percent chance of ever having another child, and that would be untreatable. I was not satisfied with this, because I absolutely did not like this stamp, so I started looking for possibilities.
The hospitals offered me no options, but maybe I could find help outside of regular care. At the end of January I came into contact with a gynecologist outside regular care who looks at the woman as a whole, has a lot of knowledge of hormones and thinks in terms of possibilities. She gave some hope, without telling me it would be okay. After all, she could not keep this promise. During our conversations she went back to basics, looked at my body as a whole and did everything she could to get to the bottom of it.
There followed a period of regular blood tests, keeping track of my cycle in detail and several appointments in her practice. She quickly came up with a plan and based on my body’s reactions, we adjusted it where necessary. I already ate organically, exercised 3 times a week and my weight was up to standard so I didn’t have to change anything. I did adjust my lifestyle to her advice and started eating even purer. I avoided gluten, limited my carbohydrate intake, reduced dairy and removed added sugars from my diet.
Furthermore, vitamins and minerals were examined and supplemented where necessary. It was a big change for both me and my environment, but I had a goal and would go for it 100 percent. Spontaneously eating somewhere, whether in a restaurant or with family or friends, became a challenge and I found myself starting to avoid it.
In addition, I didn’t want to share my story with the world yet because I wasn’t emotionally ready. It was a huge rollercoaster after the diagnosis. I felt abandoned by my body, my vision of the future was suddenly a big question mark, and somewhere I even felt shame.
In addition to the personal guidance I received from the doctor, I also sought help from the GP’s practice assistant. The personal guidance I received was important, because my drive and the idea that I had an influence on my situation also caused stress.
And even more stress wouldn’t improve the situation. All these adjustments had an effect: I started to feel better physically, my cycle seemed to become more regular and I got the feeling that I was back in control. To keep an eye on my cycle, I took my temperature every day and these measurements, which were confirmed by ultrasound images, showed that I was definitely ovulating. After ovulation I used progesterone because the value was low. In March 2022 I took a pregnancy test two weeks after my last temperature rise and I seemed to win the lottery, because I was pregnant!
A new period full of tension started because little is known about my diagnosis, pregnancy and the risk of miscarriages. After all, I was one of the few who succeeded. In addition, I had had a miscarriage before, so we didn’t go into it uninhibited. I continued to follow the modified lifestyle and doctor’s advice during my first trimester and when everything seemed to be going well, I was allowed to let go of this little by little. To be honest, it wasn’t easy to stick to the recommended lifestyle during all the hormonal changes and the so-called ‘cravings’, but my determination and my clear goal made it possible. All this with good results because in November 2022 we welcomed our second daughter in a healthy condition.