Strictly: Eamonn Holmes issues warning to Emma Thompson
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Married to fellow actor Greg Wise – who is also one of the latest contestants on Strictly Come Dancing – the pair were devastated when they could not conceive. After having “miracle child” Gaia through in-vitro fertilisation and giving birth when she was aged 40, the star endured three more years of gruelling IVF but was sadly met with failure after failure. The reason for their unfortunate pregnancy mishaps was due to Emma’s polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Talking to the MailOnline, Emma bravely opened up about her condition and the pain she felt not being able to have more children.
She said: “I would have desperately liked to have had more children and it’s been a great agony for me.
“There’s been an awful lot of grief to get through in not being able to get pregnant again, but there are thousands and thousands of women like me who can’t have children.”
In fact statistics provided by Livi – a digital health app – around 13 percent of women suffer from PCOS.
The condition affects how a woman’s ovaries work and has three main features. These are:
Irregular periods – which means your ovaries do not regularly release eggs (ovulation)
Excess androgen – high levels of “male” hormones in your body, which may cause physical signs such as excess facial or body hair
Polycystic ovaries – your ovaries become enlarged and contain many fluid-filled sacs (follicles) that surround the eggs (but despite the name, you do not actually have cysts if you have PCOS).
The condition can be so severe that it can lead to cancer and infertility, with most women diagnosed in their late teens or early 20s.
After Emma decided she was going to stop trying for a child she became involved with the charity Action Aid and when attending a party organised by the Refugee Council she met Tindy – a Rwandan boy soldier who she and husband Greg would later adopt.
The actress continued to say: “It’s very tricky. I think of all the privileges I have, and I think about what some people in Africa have to go through, but for me, not being able to get pregnant and have another child really, really hurts.
“You can’t carry about such a pain with you or you would go under. You’ve got to do something positive and, goodness me, there is so much to do.
“So I promised myself that I would do the things that I wouldn’t have been able to do had I been pregnant and bringing up another child.
“I promised myself I’d travel to Africa and tell the truth about what’s happening there – AIDS and poverty. You see, doing that answers a need in me so I suppose it’s taking advantage of a very painful situation and turning it into something positive.”
Infertility can be extremely painful for women to go through, especially if they have PCOS and have not been able to recognise the symptoms.
A study by Livi revealed that two-thirds of women are unable to identify symptoms. The most common symptoms include: irregular periods, excessive hair growth on the face, chest and abdomen, weight gain and acne.
Acne is the least known symptom of PCOS with a whopping 80 percent of people not acknowledging that it is a sign.
Talking exclusively to Express.co.uk cosmetic doctor and intimate health expert Dr Shirin Lakhani detailed the effects of PCOS on patients both mentally and physically: “Physically PCOS can result in irregular periods or no periods at all, excessive hair growth which is usually on the face, chest back or buttocks, weight gain, thinning hair on the head and oily skin or acne. Mentally though these symptoms should not be underestimated. Plus the impact it can have on people who are trying to get pregnant, can have a very detrimental effect on mental health.”
The exact cause of the condition is unknown but it often runs in families. It is related to abnormal levels of hormones in the body including levels of insulin.
Similarly there is no cure yet for PCOS and women have to rely on tracking your symptoms and menstrual cycle in order to suspect a diagnosis.
Dr Martin Kinsella is a leading hormone expert and have developed a technique known as bio-identical hormone replacement therapy aimed to improve the lives of people with PCOS.
Talking to Express.co.uk he said: “I’ve recently established my own state-of-the-art blood testing facility where I develop bespoke bio-identical hormones to prescribe to patients across the country. I’ve found that bio-identical hormone replacement therapy is a very reliable treatment for rebalancing the hormones and minimising the effects of PCOS.”
When asked if he thought whether this new and ground-breaking treatment could one day be the cure of PCOS he said: “Yes, I do think that if more research is done into using bio-identical hormone replacement therapy then a cure for PCOS will be one day possible.”
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