Lea Michele gave birth to a healthy baby boy this past August, but she endured a difficult pregnancy before that. “I had a very, very intense, very scary pregnancy,” the actor said this week on an episode of Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt’s Instagram Live series, Before, During & After. “I really withheld a lot of my experience from the people around me.” Now she is sharing new details about the challenges she faced.
Michele was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones, at age 30. She received her diagnosis after she went off of birth control for the first time in 15 years and experienced issues such as irregular periods, severe acne, and weight gain (all symptoms of PCOS, according to the Mayo Clinic). Michele managed her condition and tried to prepare her body for pregnancy through a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. She also underwent medical procedures to remove polyps, scar tissue, and cysts on her ovaries.
But Michele had trouble getting pregnant, as is the case for many people with PCOS, per the Office on Women’s Health. “Our process of conceiving was really complicated,” Michele said, explaining that having an irregular cycle made it hard to know when she was fertile. “Emotionally, it just started to build and build.”
Michele finally became pregnant after she and her husband, Zandy Reich, actually decided to stop trying for a while. Early on in the pregnancy, in December 2019, Michele started bleeding heavily right before a live performance in New York City, which became a recurring issue throughout her first trimester. Michele started taking a high dose of progesterone to help her body sustain the pregnancy and stayed on bed rest.
At some points during the pregnancy, Michele said, the bleeding was so bad that she rushed to the hospital, and she was constantly afraid she was going to lose her pregnancy. Heavy bleeding during the first trimester can indicate a miscarriage, and people with PCOS have a higher risk for pregnancy complications (including miscarriage), the Office on Women’s Health explains. “Probably every other day, we were certain that this time was definitely it,” Michele recalled. “It was just horrible. It was absolutely, absolutely horrible…. I thought it was the most scared I would ever be in my life—until things got even more complicated.”
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