Since high school, Shauna McDonald has had heavy, painful periods. She was diagnosed with uterine fibroids, and over the years, she’s undergone six surgeries to remove them. Between surgeries, she tried getting pregnant and went through two unsuccessful rounds of in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
“That takes a toll on your psyche, on your relationships,” McDonald, 41, of Stamford, Connecticut, told TODAY. “I didn’t really give up, but I was just tired and over it. I was just like, ‘Maybe I’m not supposed to be a mom,’ even though deep down I know I’m supposed to be a mother.”
After a period that wouldn’t stop in 2020, McDonald underwent surgery to have 78 fibroids removed, and her doctor encouraged her to try getting pregnant again.
“He said, ‘You have to heal from this surgery, and you have three months to get pregnant because if you do not, the fibroids are going to come back,” she recalled. “I did my IVF, and on the first round I got pregnant. It was truly a blessing.”
Heavy periods, bowel obstruction, complex diagnosis
McDonald first got her period at 10, and they became heavy throughout high school. A doctor diagnosed her with fibroids, or noncancerous growths on or in the uterus, and in college she started taking birth control to manage her symptoms. Yet, it wasn’t enough to stop the excessive bleeding she experienced when menstruating.
“I still continued with having heavy bleeding into my 20s. I suffered with it, and I got a second opinion from my doctor, and that’s when I diagnosed with endometriosis at 27,” McDonald explained. “I was 30, going on 31 when I had the first surgery for my fibroids.” She underwent a myomectomy, a surgical procedure to remove fibroids. Then a few years later, her heavy periods returned.
“It’s a matter of it always resurfacing and returning and the bleeding gets better and then it gets worse,” she said. “Once it gets to a certain point that it’s worse, that’s when I will go back and have them removed.”
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SOURCE: TODAY, Meghan Holohan