Wellbeing of Women Case Study
Woona's Fertility Story
Looking back now through the years, I am more convinced my fertility journey began from my first menstrual cycle at age 16. I had indescribable pain, very heavy bleeding, prolonged menstrual cycles, and nausea. It affected my relationships, and eventually more recently my family and career. Through my teens and 20s, the condition was passed off as really bad menstrual pains; I learned to live with the pain and enjoyed life the best I could.
Fast forward fifteen years later.
Aged 31, I was diagnosed with endometriosis and fibroids.
Personally, I have found this experience very lonely. While you might find other women with similar issues, like fingerprints, our journeys and experiences are never the same.
Yes, I have the support of family, friends, and access to support groups. But nothing prepares you for infertility. No one is in my body and I doubt you can understand my mental state or the changes my body endures and goes through.
I always wanted to have a family of my own coming from a big family myself. I did not allow this desire to consume me though. However, I cannot help but wonder what could have been and what my life would look like with kids.
When we got married in 2009, we decided to take time out and enjoy the first few years of marriage; by 2011 the nightmare started. My tummy was protruding, so we thought I was pregnant, we did a pregnancy test, and I was not. After several scans and tests, I was diagnosed with fibroids and endometriosis. The doctors recommended IVF; after one abdominal myomectomy, six laparoscopies, and five failed IVF cycles, I am still on the journey to motherhood.
It has been difficult… I cannot even put words to the experience. Some days I do not know how I get through it. I think I suffered from a bout of depression and most definitely all the stages of grief. You start to wonder if there is something you have done to deserve this.
Most people in society associate having children with a sense of wholeness and if you cannot do this you are a defect. The doctors have recommended having a hysterectomy for me to have a good quality of life; on my bad days, honestly, I have considered going through with it.
There is the option for surrogacy however this has a huge cost associated with it – the clinical payments of IVF and embryo transfers, consulting fees and legal fees. There is also the issue with the inability to enforce surrogacy agreement by the law in the UK.
I used to think that my mission in life was just to put smiles on my family’s faces. Now I know that I want to empower more women who are battling infertility, lend my support, and encourage one another. I try not to let this situation or condition weigh me down - I have learned to be stronger through my Christian faith and live life full of appreciation and in colour.
I fancy myself a model and a fashion and photography muse and over the years I have poured myself into these.
More recently I started my YouTube channel Woona’s World to journal my fertility journey and change the stigma and narrative of women struggling with infertility. We deserve to be happy too!
It is my hope that we continue to have these discussions and families do not have to hide their struggles or feel shame about their health and or needing medical intervention to get or stay pregnant.
I am on a journey of self-discovery, navigating 'infertility', and building a life full of purpose, sharing my journey with as much transparency, openness, and realness as possible. Despite everything, I am positive.
New treatments for infertility, fibroids and endometriosis would change many people’s lives immensely.