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Signs and symptoms of endometriosis: Woman reveals infertility journey with one in six Aussies struggling to fall pregnant


Maddi Ross never once doubted her fertility.

She had four siblings, and her mum had fallen pregnant easily — including having her fifth child as the result of a ‘surprise’ pregnancy at 42.

And since she was young, Maddi had dreamt about one day becoming a mother herself.

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Now 32, she is surrounded by children — but none of them is her own.

“All of my friends have children and I am so, so incredibly happy for them,” Maddi tells 7Life of her fertility struggles, which have stemmed from complications around the disease endometriosis.

“But it is a bitter pill to swallow.”

Happily married and ready to start the family she had always wanted, Maddi says that, instead, she and her husband have heartbreakingly collected “dozens” of negative pregnancy tests.

She is not alone.

With one in six people in Australia impacted by infertility, the NSW woman wants the country to change how it speaks to women of a “certain age”.

“You get to a certain age and people constantly ask you: ‘When are you having a baby?’,” she says.

“It just, it makes my soul cry.”

Maddi’s story

After her mum became pregnant at 42, it became engrained in Maddi’s mind that bearing children would be “simple”.

“My family (stories) framed a lot what I thought about fertility,” she says.

“Like, Mum falls pregnant even on the pill, so I thought I’m not going to have any problems.”

Maddi was diagnosed with endometriosis. Credit: Instagram/maddi_rossxoxo

When Maddi, then 29, began planning her marriage to her long-time boyfriend she decided to come off contraception, so they could begin trying to conceive immediately.

But her menstrual cycle was irregular and she was experiencing “odd” pain twice a month.

A few months after stopping contraception, she was in excruciating pain and taken to hospital.

Doctors suspected Maddi had endometriosis, where uterine tissue grows outside the uterus.

She would need surgery to investigate and remove the tissue, as well as to receive a formal diagnosis.

“I have never even broken a bone,” Maddi says.

“The idea of having surgery just scared me so I said thanks, but no thanks.”

But in the following six months, the young woman was hospitalised four times due to debilitating pain.

Surgery was her only option.

Gowned up and lying in her hospital bed awaiting the operation, Maddi was handed consent forms.

Some of the dozens of pregnancy tests Maddi has taken. Credit: Supplied

“It was just your normal forms but on there it said something like: ‘Do you consent to having your ovaries removed if they can’t be saved’,” Maddi reveals.

“I just broke down.”

Surgeons were shocked to discover Maddi’s abdominal organs riddled with endometriosis — spanning from her behind her uterus, bowel and bladder.

As well as removing as much endometrial tissue as possible, the surgeon took out her appendix.

“It was 10 plus years of endo growth,” she says.

Maddi recovered well — but just 10 days later, she woke with a high fever and was in agony around her surgical site.

After calling an ambulance, she was taken to hospital where an 8cm abscess was discovered hiding behind her uterus.

She needed emergency surgery.

Maddi wed her husband in May 2022. Credit: Instagram/maddi_rossxoxo

However, doctors warned Maddi that the infection may have caused irreversible fallopian tube damage.

Alongside the now eight holes in her stomach, she was told they couldn’t determine whether the previous surgeries had impacted her fertility.

She was left in limbo.

Investigating

Pushing her fertility to the back of her mind, Maddi tried to focus on her upcoming wedding in May, 2022.

And she married the man of her dreams, surrounded by family and closest friends.

Still trying to conceive naturally, in December that year Maddi began refocusing on her dream of motherhood.

She started tracking her menstrual cycle and fuelling her body with healthy foods.

She also began seeking fertility advice but was appalled by the counselling she received.

Presenting at around size 16-18, Maddi was told again and again to lose weight if she wanted to become a mother.

“I was even told to have gastric sleeve surgery,” she says.

But Maddi says that, on paper, she is a healthy average Australian woman.

The brave woman is sharing her story to help others who might be struggling with infertility. Credit: Instagram/maddi_rossxoxo

“It is just lazy doctors who can’t look past scales and an outdated BMI,” she says.

She eventually found a fertility specialist who agreed it wasn’t her weight, and underwent some tests to investigate any potential impacts from her surgeries.

“She (the doctor) didn’t even mention my weight,” Maddi smiles.

Sadly for Maddi, the testing revealed she had a blockage in her right fallopian tube, she wasn’t ovulating and she had some scarring as a result of the surgery.

Her chances to conceive without medical assistance were diminished.

She was heartbroken.

During this time, Maddi watched as friends around her began starting families of their own.

Overjoyed by their happiness, she bravely surrounded the new parents with love.

Maddi has begun the process of IVF in December, 2023. Credit: Supplied

And she says they could not have been kinder and more respectful of her own parenthood journey during this time.

In December 2023, Maddi began the process of IVF.

“I am optimistic,” she says of the chances of conceiving.

“I like that we have a plan but at the same time IVF isn’t 100 per cent.”

Maddi hopes that by sharing her journey she can help the other thousands of hopeful parents know they are not alone.

She also hopes to help those who don’t have fertility issues to understand that asking a couple when they are having children can be unintentionally triggering.

“I am staying hopeful,” Maddi says of her dream to become a mother.

“I am happy we have a way forward.”

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