The passage of time can be painful for a couple trying to conceive. Tasha Souvignier and her husband felt this way for a year as they tried to conceive without success.
“We always wanted to have kids, so when we struggled for a year, it was really devastating that we were unable to get pregnant,” Souvignier said.
After that year of trying, Souvignier’s primary care physician referred her to Sanford Health Fertility & Reproductive Medicine in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Souvignier and her husband met with Keith Hansen, M.D., and his nurse practitioner Angie Schmidt.
Finally, some answers
After a range of ultrasounds and lab tests, the care team discovered that Souvignier had polycystic ovarian syndrome, commonly called PCOS. PCOS is a health problem caused by a hormonal imbalance that can lead to issues with fertility when it interferes with the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries.
“It can cause different symptoms for different people,” Souvignier said. “In my case, it made it difficult to lose weight and caused the infertility we experienced.”
According to the Office on Women’s Health, PCOS is a common health issue affecting 1 in 10 women. But having PCOS does not mean that a woman can’t ever get pregnant. Correcting the hormonal imbalance that interferes with the eggs typically helps raise the chances of getting pregnant.
“We had a lot of questions and they walked us through everything. Dr. Hansen explained everything in detail, which I think really helped my husband because he didn’t know much about PCOS,” Souvignier said.
Next steps after PCOS diagnosis
Her next step was to meet with a dietitian who explained the diet she needed to follow to achieve weight loss with PCOS. By adjusting eating habits and getting regular physical activity, many women are able to relieve some of the symptoms they experience with PCOS. Losing weight can help to lower blood glucose levels, improve how the body uses insulin and adjust hormone levels.
Every woman experiences PCOS differently. Other symptoms include an irregular menstrual cycle, excessive hair growth, acne, thinning scalp hair and darkening of the skin. Dr. Hansen was also able to remove a polyp on one of Souvignier’s ovaries, which can be another symptom of PCOS.
Following successful weight loss, Souvignier and her husband were able to conceive naturally. And in December of 2018, Souvignier gave birth to their son, Jacob.
“He has changed our lives. He’s our pride and joy — and we wouldn’t change it for anything,” she said.
‘Everything made more sense’
With the help of the reproductive medicine team, Souvignier was able to find the answers and support that she needed to overcome her fertility challenges and grow her family like she’d always imagined.
“Once I found out I had polycystic ovarian syndrome everything made more sense, and it was a little bit easier knowing that there was a reason why we couldn’t get pregnant — versus just not knowing,” Souvignier said. “Once you have answers, then you know what you can do to help improve your chances.”
When it comes to fertility, knowing your unique challenges can set you up for success.
“I know it’s a very stressful situation, but they can do a lot of tests to figure out why,” Souvignier said. “Instead of waiting — like I did — I would recommend finding out why and then you can do everything you can to get through it.”
Sanford Health offers reproductive medicine outreach services in Aberdeen, Sioux City and Rapid City. Learn more about fertility and reproductive medicine at Sanford Health.
- Infrequent or absent periods may be potentially serious PCOS
- How infertility led one woman to empower others