Only 44 percent of couples experiencing infertility seek treatment
Thankfully for Gamy she was one of those 4 in ten couples who did seek evaluation and fertility treatment. Every couple has a unique journey, due to different medical issues, needs and decisions, but many elements they experience are similar. Gamy has chosen to share her story with you, in the hopes that you will learn something about your own journey.
Unlike many women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Gamy grew up aware that she had a family history of the disorder. She first knew there was a problem because she was delayed in receiving her first period. When it finally did come, it was very heavy and extremely painful. PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility in women and the most common endocrine disorder in reproductive age women. Despite being heavy and very long (7-10 days), her period was consistent in her teens. However, as she got into her 20’s, Gamy noticed that she would skip her period and it came less frequently. Eventually, she was frequently missing her period and only had a cycle 3-4 times a year.
This made Gamy concerned. She sought help from a local OB/GYN. The doctor performed an ultrasound and found many cysts on her ovaries and thought maybe she had PCOS. She was told it was possible she would need help getting pregnant, but at the time she was young and not even considering a family. Like many young women, she did not realize the impact of this disease on her health or fertility.
Eventually Gamy continued got married. Her periods became so infrequent that she would not get one unless she was cycled on the birth control pills. When she and her husband decided to start a family, she received sought treatment with her gynecologist who prescribed a fertility medication for several months. When she did not conceive, she was referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist.
Gamy made lifestyle changes to her diet eliminating sugar and started on an exercise program. Fortunately, her fertility doctor was able to perform the necessary procedure to prepare her body for pregnancy. He also altered the combination of medications she was prescribed, based on his expert experience treating infertility in women. By her second cycle of medication therapy, Gamy became pregnant at the age of 31.
After her first son was born, Gamy and her family relocated to Florida. She knew she wanted a second child, and her former doctor advised her to stay on birth control consistently until she wanted to become pregnant. She followed his advice, and when it was time to try to conceive she consulted her local Tampa OB/GYN. The doctor first recommended she have surgery to clear her fallopian tubes, for which she was referred to RMG. This became the first step in her progressive infertility treatment plan.
After her surgery, her OB/GYN realized she would likely need the care of a Reproductive Endocrinologist to become pregnant again. She then became a patient of Dr. Tarantino. Together, Dr. Tarantino, Gamy, and her husband discussed her diagnosis, medical history, and options. Dr. Tarantino felt it was best to start with the least invasive option first and try 3 cycles of fertility medications alone.
He made a plan and gave her an overview of the plan, which included a transition to IUI if she was not pregnant within 3 cycles, but he told her to take a deep breath and take it step by step. Due to Gamy being older and hormones changing, Dr. Tarantino prescribed a different combination of medications than Gamy had taken before.
Within the second cycle, at the age of 34, Gamy became pregnant with her youngest son. Initially, she was pregnant with twins, but one twin vanished and did not make it. Still, she feels blessed to have her 2 healthy boys. Like most women who seek infertility treatment, Gamy was able to become pregnant using basic treatment, without using advanced procedures like IVF.
In regards to fertility, Gamy is passionate about two things:
1. PCOS Awareness and treatment.
2. If you have abnormal periods or suspected female infertility reach out to a Reproductive Endocrinologist as soon as possible.
For PCOS Awareness Gamy wants people to be careful about self-diagnosis. Gamy did not present with many “classic” physical symptoms of PCOS. According to her, it’s about tracking the period cycles. If something is wrong with your period, she said you need to seek answers. Don’t accept that it is normal to have irregular cycles or cycles that are painful and heavy. Recognize these symptoms and seek a diagnosis and treatment – from a REAL, live doctor.
She said you may read that PCOS patients are obese, prone to metabolic syndrome, have acne, or excess body hair, but she did not have these very apparent signs. She said find a doctor you can trust (she always recommends Dr. Tarantino, but all our doctors at RMG are wonderful), and do your best to relax and trust them. Seek answers and stay realistic, but try to take it one step at a time.
Beyond her fertility team, Gamy credits her husband for being able to handle her fertility issues with PCOS. She said he was a constant cheerleader, trying to keep her positive and keep her mind from worrying. She said partner support and having a team on your side is very important to success.
Ultimately Gamy wants women, especially young women to remember one thing: if you are missing your period or have abnormal periods, it is NOT ok. Seek answers while you are young and treat any conditions to preserve your fertility options so that you can one day become a mother.