Victoria’s Secret Angel Romee Strijd was devastated when she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) two years ago.
At the appointment, Strijd’s gynecologist told her she would struggle to become pregnant "naturally" because of the condition.
“My world collapsed because my biggest dream was to start a family,” Strijd, 24, revealed in an emotional YouTube video on Thursday.
Strijd’s dream is finally coming true. In the same clip, the Dutch model announced that she and her husband, Laurens van Leeuwen, are expecting their first child.
PSOC is a disorder of the endocrine system that affects 8 to 12% of women of reproductive age. Some women with PCOS may need medication to help them ovulate —but many conceive spontaneously, according to Dr. Margo Hudson, co-director of the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
But if that's the case, why do myths persist that women with PCOS can't get pregnant? It's not just Dr. Google. For years, medical professionals gave patients bad information.
Colleen Kingsbury, a 37-year-old teacher in Pennsylvania, recalled how an endocrinologist informed her that she would “never” have children. At the time of her diagnosis, she was 17.
“I was like, ‘Thanks for this fantastic pep talk,’” Kingsbury told TODAY Parents. “He said it very matter-of-fact."
Kingsbury, who takes the drug metformin to regulate her menstrual cycle, would go on to conceive her daughters Harper, 10, and Emerson, 7, without fertility treatments.
“I was shocked when it happened naturally,” Kingsbury said. “I was convinced we were going to have to look into other avenues.”
Lauren Brown West-Rosenthal, a Connecticut-based writer and editor with PCOS, can relate to what Kingsbury went through.
“It was so drilled into my head by my doctor that pregnancy wasn’t going to happen for me,” Brown West-Rosenthal told TODAY Parents. “There was this constant hum of panic. When my husband and I started trying, it felt like we were just going through the motions until we could start IVF."
But just like Kingsbury, Brown West-Rosenthal became pregnant without any intervention.
This doesn't surprise Hudson in the slightest.
“The only way to say somebody couldn’t get pregnant is if they have no uterus or they have ovarian failure,” Hudson explained. “I would never tell a patient that I knew had PCOS that she could never get pregnant.”
In fact, Hudson frequently reminds her patients that they can become pregnant.
“Women with PCOS will become pregnant and have no idea because they aren’t used to having a period,” Hudson explained.
Hudson noted there are several ways to increase your chances of getting pregnant if you have PCOS.
“Usually weight loss will allow for more frequent ovulatory cycles,” Hudson said. There are also drugs like metformin to increase your chances of ovulation.
In the event that those methods don't work, it's important to remember you have options.
"Sometimes you have to go all the way to IVF," Hudson told TODAY Parents. "There are so many excellent treatments."