Transcript for Vomit Phobia Threatens Woman's Dream of Having Kids
young woman be terrified of getting married? She suffers from a phobia that affects millions of women, previously suffering in silence. Because it was frankly embarrassing to admit. And I was one of them. To stand at the center of Jessica Mellen's world is to live in the heart of primal fear. Heart racing. You don't know why it's happening. Reporter: Blood pressure rising. You really don't know how to stop it. Reporter: Every sight and sound around her distorted by her terror. You feel like you're just going to snap and go nuts. Reporter: Jessica is one of more than 40 million Americans who suffer from anxiety disorder. Its symptoms all over youtube. I can't stop hyperventilating. Reporter: Intense panic attacks triggered by anything from driving a car, to flying in a plane, to riding in an elevator. N! Ope Reporter: Jessica is afraid of all of these things. But her most powerful phobia, the one that fills her with the most dread is this. If someone was like you can either be shot in the leg or throw up once, I would be like just shoot me in the leg. I would really pick that. Reporter: You would choose being shot in the leg? Absolutely. Reporter: Jessica is intensely afraid of vomiting. To me that's one of the worst things that could happen to me, if not the worst. Its called emetophobia and millions of people have it. Including me. I've had it all my life. I would do anything for my two children. I would die for them. But if one of them vomits, I run. And it's very embarrassing to admit it. I thought I was crazy. I didn't know that there were other people like me suffering from this. Reporter: A lot of people like you. Jessica's entire life is choreographed around protecting herself against the possibility of throwing up. Taking every precaution against catching the flu from co-workers. I would be like, are you sick, is it a stomach thing, is it something you ate? Reporter: To the pharmacy in her purse armoring her against throwing up. I do carry extra medications. Reporter: Antacids, tummy drops, cough drops, hand sanitizer. Take one of these tablets once a day. Reporter: Do you ever feel frustrated -- Absolutely. Reporter: That you're this out of control? Every day. The fear just engulfs and it swallows everything around you. Reporter: Everything, even the lifelong dream she and her fiance share. I have never been this scared in my entire life. Reporter: Jessica is so terrified of getting morning sickness, she's told the man she loves she won't get pregnant. And that's putting the most important relationship in her life at risk. You know how extreme that is, right? To give up bringing your own baby, your -- another life into this world simply because you're afraid you might have morning sickness and throw up. Yes, I know. Sorry. Reporter: That's okay. Why are you crying? Because I don't want to feel that way and I don't want to miss out on something that could be really special between the two of us because of my phobia. It's not fair to him either. Reporter: But right now you simply can't? I can't. Reporter: Marvin and Jessica met and fell in love while working at a restaurant they own together in Philadelphia. We just automatically clicked right off the bat. Reporter: Everything was going well until they started planning a wedding. How fraught did your relationship get as a result? I told him that if he felt like he couldn't continue with this relationship because I might not be able to do this. But I would have to let him go. I am scared where if I can't get to this point where I feel like I'm okay to get pregnant like what it's going to mean for us in our relationship. Jess. It's not ideal. Okay? But neither are a lot of things in life. Reporter: In the beginning did you think it was funny? Like, "Are you kidding?" I just thought that she essentially didn't care enough to try. I'm like, you're not willing to even risk throwing up to he a kid with me? I mean, I took offense to it. Reporter: And now she's researching a surrogate. How much would that cost? Between $40,000 and Reporter: Desperate to conquer her phobia, she chooses a radical path. The treatment we are allowed to tape is rarely shown on camera. Her doctor is Steven Tsao. Dr. Tsao is talking about "Exposure therapy". He's throwing up into a toilet. Reporter: The goal, to de-sensitize Jessica to her fears by directly confronting them. I feel like I can smell it. Reporter: Suddenly, her eyes fill with tears as a memory she's completely repressed surfaces. I think I'm starting to remember why I'm so scared of it which is making me really upset. The last time I got sick when I was younger I threw up so bad I couldn't breathe and it was really scary. Reporter: It's the first major step towards learning to control her phobia. You should be really proud of yourself. Thank you. Reporter: Over the next five months, the attack is relentless and targeted. From pictures of people throwing up, to eating food she thinks is unsafe and will make her sick, time and again he forces Jessica past her comfort zone. But with just weeks until her wedding day, she's still afraid of getting pregnant. I can't have a child until I feel better about this. I'm tempted to make myself throw up. Reporter: Jessica is horrified when Dr. Tsao asks her to do exactly that at their next session. Is it this one or the next one? Reporter: Down this hall and into the claustrophobic confines of a tiny bathroom, Jessica is about to take a leap of faith. But after an hour and a half of tears and frustration -- I can't do it. Reporter: She may feel defeated, but the goal was never about actually throwing up. The goal is all the anxiety that comes with throwing up. I want all that to go. I know you're trying hard. You don't have to say. Reporter: Marvin still hopes she'll someday have his baby, but for now is willing to wait. The more I realized that she is actually like deathly afraid to throw up, the more it becomes like real for us. You know? Reporter: The therapy has helped a little and anxiety was only a brief guest at the wedding. What happened when you waited there in that gorgeous dress of yours? The anxiety started to climb. Started to increase 'cause I was like, "Okay. My turn's coming up. My turn's coming up." My mom walked me down the aisle and I said, "Mom, I'm having a panic attack." I'm like, I need a drink of water" and the woman at the venue was 'we don't have time," I'm like, I don't care, I'm going to make it. I felt like I was choking. Reporter: Despite those moments of panic, Jessica was no runaway bride. I just have the keep trying my best. Reporter: It was Marvin who was an emotional wreck at the altar. It's for me and it's for him and it's for us. But at the end of the day, it's for me. I now pronounce you husband and wife. Mr. And Mrs. Marvin and Jessica Graaf. Next, from crazy fun to just
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