Menopause occurs when all of the store of eggs that a woman is born with have been released and she is no longer fertile. The average age for a ‘natural’ menopause is about 50, however as a result of illness, medical procedure or genetics for some women it occurs before the age of 40 and this is known as premature menopause. For women that wish to get pregnant the news can be heart breaking.
Paula will always remember the day she was told that she had no eggs. She says: “I was absolutely devastated, I cried all night in despair.”
Paula’s early menopause was masked by her Mirena coil; this contraceptive device releases a synthetic form of the female hormone progesterone. It is often recommended for women with heavy periods as it can reduce or stop periods entirely.
When in her early thirties she had the coil removed to start a family her periods were initially very irregular, but she assumed this was a cycle settling down and did not seek help for a while. It was only after several years that it was finally revealed by a blood test that she probably had Premature Ovarian Failure.
“I went on a real downer; I was still young but felt I wasn’t a woman anymore. I kept asking myself ‘what if I had done this, what if I had done that’. I thought I would never have children – it was so hard to bear.”
Paula went to Bourn Hall Clinic for fertility treatment and went on the waiting list for an egg donor. Bourn Hall Clinic runs an egg donation and egg share programme and a volunteer was found to share her eggs with Paula.
“The donor produced twenty eggs, ten for her and ten for me, and I got pregnant first time. I was over the moon; I had not expected it to work on the first attempt. You are not told about the other person but I so hoped that she was pregnant too.”
The twins, Aidan and Ethan, were born in March 2011 and Paula and her husband Gary still can’t believe the babies are here.
“I call them my little miracles. I think of the donor all the time and just couldn’t thank her enough. We owe her so much for the joy she has given us.”
“To anyone considering donating I would say, ‘be very sure that it is what you want to do’, it is not an easy decision. To give someone who craves a baby with her whole being the chance of being a mother is probably one of the most generous things you could ever do.”
“I can still remember the pain when I was told I had no eggs and now I have these beautiful babies; I can’t begin to describe the joy.”