Model and actress Jaime King has struggled with endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and infertility, including undergoing numerous fertility treatments and having 15 miscarriages. Now she’s sharing her story, advocating for awareness, and supporting other women.
For years, Jaime King, now 40, had painful periods that lasted a week, as well as migraines, exhaustion, and other symptoms that made her life difficult. She thought it was normal because that’s all she’d ever known.
Over the years, she’d been to nine doctors, each of whom gave her a different diagnosis.
“Women are not supposed to be in pain,” she said, “but women don’t always know that.”
In her 20s, King, who started her career modeling for Armani, Calvin Klein, and Victoria’s Secret, started unexpectedly gaining weight despite eating well, exercising, and being holistic. Doctors misdiagnosed her with a thyroid problem.
“I really didn’t understand what was wrong with me,” she said. “It was very isolating.”
When she was 28, Dr. Randy Harris diagnosed her with endometriosis. The condition, which involves tissue similar to the uterus’ lining growing outside of the uterus, affects 6.5 million women in the United States.
He also diagnosed her with PCOS, a hormonal disorder that affects about 10 million women worldwide. The condition is considered a leading cause of infertility.
During that appointment, Dr. Harris told King she was pregnant, but two weeks later, she was in severe pain, was bleeding, and later miscarried. She was distraught.
“I was going through it very privately,” King said. “Nobody talked about this.”
Now the actress who plays Rosie on Netflix’s “Black Summer” is speaking out so other woman don’t feel so alone.
“I have to share what happened to me,” she said. “The idea that other women are suffering in silence like this kills me.”
King said feedback from other women has been positive, and explained that women tell her they feel understood and relate to her experiences, including feeling isolated.
“I call it a silent disease,” King said, noting endometriosis affects a woman’s self-esteem. “This is a chronic autoimmune disease that can completely overtake your life.”
Managing her disease
King says she never knows how she’s going to feel each day, which makes it difficult to manage symptoms. She takes a birth-control pill daily to suppress her periods, explaining not getting her period prevents scar tissue from forming in her uterus.
She encourages all women experiencing painful periods and infertility to get checked out and diagnosed. She’s also an advocate for freezing your eggs.
“The sooner you can get diagnosed, the better,” King said. “The more you can suppress the endometriosis, the more you protect and preserve your fertility.”
She aims to raise awareness for the disease as well as funding for research and new treatments.
Currently, the options for treating endometriosis are to take birth control to suppress fertility, taking a drug to induce menopause, or having a hysterectomy.
“That’s not acceptable to me that those are the only options,” King said.
After years of ongoing infertility, King and her filmmaker husband Kyle Newman now have two children, Leo Thames, 6, and James Knight, 4.
She wants other women to know an endometriosis diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have fertility problems. Still, she encourages women on the journey to find a good doctor, and to have the support of friends and family.
“Get a second opinion, a third opinion,” she said. “Really feel out what’s right for you. Know that you are not alone.”