Like many couples, Nicola Szymanowski and her husband Mark struggled with fertility for what felt like an eternity. In 2011, Mark was told he had a low sperm count, and Nicola, 38, was informed she had a low egg reserve.
According to the Daily Mail, the two let their plans for children slip to the back burner until their honeymoon in 2013, and from there, things seemed to just keep getting more difficult for the lovebirds.
Within months, they enrolled in a nearby fertility clinic in England and began the arduous journey of daily injections and costly IVF treatments.
Then they were finally given a sign of hope: Nicola found herself pregnant at last.
Sadly, however, she soon suffered a miscarriage and lost identical twins. Nicola told the Daily Mail:
“It was an horrific journey, absolutely horrific. There were times when we were so low.”
In early 2015, they were referred to Dr. Gillian Lockwood in England and were told they needed to make some major lifestyle changes.
According to the Daily Mail, Nicola and Mark were instructed to eliminate caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol, and two seemingly unsuspecting things as well: Nicola’s perfume and Mark’s daily exercise:
“The doctor said Mark doing strenuous exercise would lead to his body releasing endorphins to repair the muscles, which could affect our chances. And she also said chemicals from perfume or make-up would get into my bloodstream, so I stopped using perfume.”
Nicola told the Daily Mail she even went as far as asking “people who were coming to see me not to wear perfume.”
Although Mark said the changes were difficult, it was well worth it. Dr. Lockwood changed Nicola’s IVF treatments to a “short protocol” and even put her on a brief stint of steroids. One perfect egg, however, was implanted in Nicola several weeks later.
Now, Nicola and Mark have been blessed with a baby boy. As Nicola said:
“We finally got what we wanted.”
Despite suffering miscarriages, health issues, several failed implanted eggs, and countless injections, Nicola told the Daily Mail she’s grateful for the process:
“Without IVF we wouldn’t have our family. Science is amazing. The whole process was totally and utterly physically and emotionally exhausting.”
Of course, she is open about the journey not being all rainbows and fairy tales:
“We had some really rough times, there were times when I couldn’t speak to people, and times when I couldn’t get out of bed.”
But thankfully, she has a beautiful son to show for it:
“But now Charlie is here. He is beautifully a mixture of Mark and I, and is doing well.”
Although Nicola and Mark were told to alter many aspects of their day-to-day lives to improve their fertility, ruling out perfume and makeup seems to have some merit.
According to a study done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, beauty products such as makeup and perfume contain different chemicals, specifically endocrine-disrupting chemicals, that have been linked to endometriosis, disorders of the uterus, and disorders of the ovaries. According to Global IVF, in addition, those chemicals are also linked to female infertility and even miscarriages.
For Nicola and Mark, their journey has finally been blessed with a happy ending. Thankfully, their struggles might help countless other men and women better deal with their own fertility issues — and that is priceless.