How One Woman's Fertility Struggle Was All in Her Head

When an Ohio mom couldn’t get pregnant the second time, her doctor told her it was all in her head. Literally.

Fertility and an MRI Undrey/Shutterstock
Stephanie Mason had already given birth to her firstborn when she decided she wanted another baby—but she never expected the way her story would turn out when she started trying to conceive a second time.

The Ohio native tried for two years with no success before she figured out why she was having such a hard time getting pregnant...and her story is almost unbelievable. "I hadn't had a cycle yet so I went to my OB," Mason told Fit Pregnancy. But her doctor sent her home, saying her cycle was probably thrown off by the hormonal changes associated with nursing.

She continued to try with no luck. "After another year I went to [my doctor] and she said 'Stephanie, it's probably not an issue but let's just draw some blood," Mason continued. "We drew some blood and my prolactin levels were high."

Mason's doctor encouraged her to see an endocrinologist, who suggested something shocking: The possibility that Mason had a brain tumor. "I thought to myself 'well, that's not it. I'm an active, healthy 30-something and that's not it."

Related: Get Healthy, Get Pregnant Using the Fertility Diet

But sure enough, an MRI revealed that Mason did in fact have a brain tumor...and that it was the root of her infertility.

Mason's tumor was benign but its location was problematic. Known as a pituitary adenoma, it can cause irregular periods and, in Mason's case, infertility.

The mother quickly decided to set up a meeting with Daniel Prevedello, M.D., who specializes in brain and spine tumors at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. "He said 'Stephanie, your tumor is bigger than what we like to see. Sometimes we can just watch it but in your case, we need to take it out, the sooner the better," Mason said. She had her tumor removed through her nose soon after. "I kept telling him 'I'm going to be pregnant right after this surgery,'" Mason added.

Related: The 10 Best Fertility Apps

Sure enough, Mason was pregnant six weeks later. 

How did this work? Dr. Prevedello explained it to Fit Pregnancy. "She had a tumor on the pituitary gland, [which] controls all the glands in the body, including the ovaries," he said. "When the pituitary gland isn't working well, then it doesn't send a message to the ovaries to ovulate and have normal fertility."

Mason had what she described as "the easiest pregnancy." She stayed active and healthy and on June 9, 2015, she welcomed her second child. Both Mason and Dr. Prevedello urge other women to really explore their options and seek out professional advice if they're going through infertility—the reason could be something as seemingly unrelated (and unbelievable) as a brain tumor. 

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