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WATCH: Inverness fertility specialist reveals the grief that comes with infertility

By Annabelle Gauntlett

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Fertility specialist Morven Kinnear-MacLennan.
Fertility specialist Morven Kinnear-MacLennan.

An Inverness woman has revealed the grief that comes with infertility after she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) as a teenager which gravely impacted her fertility.

Morven Kinnear-MacLennan (33), from Inverness, always aspired to become a mum, until she was diagnosed with PCOS, and suddenly that dream became a distant reality.

Polycystic ovary syndrome is when the ovaries become enlarged and contain many fluid-filled sacs (follicles) that surround the eggs.

Morven started experiencing gruelling symptoms of PCOS while young, such as irregular periods, mental health issues and excessive hair growth.

Commonly with PCOS, women experience excess androgen. This led to Morven having high levels of "male" hormones in her body, which caused physical signs such as excess body hair.

She said: "The reason I went to my GP was because my periods were really irregular and I had really hairy legs and I didn't know why.

"The back, face and chest are typical places it's known to grow with my condition.

"My periods were also really absent. I would maybe have one or two periods a year.

"I also struggled with brain fog and having a low mood due to my hormone imbalance."

From the age of 16, the prospect of having her own biological child was slim for Morven.

She said: "It was really frightening and it led me to grow up thinking I was less of a woman because I wasn't able to fulfil the role of motherhood.

Her ovaries were deemed as a ticking time bomb as she was led to believe she would become infertile by the age of 30.

She said: "It meant that by my 20s, going on dates felt really loaded because I would worry that that person might have been the one I was meant to be with and I didn't want to miss the opportunity and run out of time.

"I spent the next 10 years of my life panicking about what my diagnosis meant for my future.

"It wasn't until I slowed down my thought process that I realised a lot of women with PCOS do conceive, whether that be natural or with assistance.

"I just wish that I knew the information that I know now when I was younger so that I didn't turn into this panicked young girl."

PCOS is a leading cause of infertility, affecting one in 10 people in the UK alone.

Due to this, for years Morven felt 'rushed' to have a child before her supposed cut-off point at 30, putting excessive pressure on her to settle down sooner than her peers.

By the age of 26 Morven had met her husband, but struggled to conceive their first child for four years.

She said: "I am very lucky to now have two little boys, but it was an incredibly challenging time."

Morven felt 'incredibly isolated' for many years as she struggled to relate to her peers following her diagnosis.

She said: "When I eventually fell pregnant, I really felt like I couldn't connect with other pregnant mothers because I thought they wouldn't understand what kind of mother I was.

"And that was a really lonely and isolating place to be."

Morven described the grief that comes with infertility as 'isolating'.

She said: "Grief and loss is a huge part of infertility.

"It is the grief of losing what you thought you were going to have.

"No grief is linear, but when it comes down to infertility and developing diagnosis, it can be really complicated.

"There's also the grief of a genetic loss and when you are dealing with that diagnosis it can be a very isolating and scary place."

During this challenging time, Morven's coping strategy was to educate herself about fertility after being left in the fog for so many years.

She said: "I studied everything I could so I knew what I was going to ask when I went to an appointment.

"It also led to me retaining a wealth of knowledge that has gone on to my profession as an independent fertility nurse."

After enduring years of living her own fertility nightmare, Morven now helps women from across the Highlands embrace their own fertility journey as an independent fertility specialist nurse and yoga instructor.

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