Rebekah Brooks started fertility treatment in a bid to start a family with Ross Kemp, the hacking trial has heard.
The mother-of-one appeared to lose her composure as the subject of having children was raised, and was close to tears as she asked for a break.
Her barrister, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, apologised for having to quiz her about her love life, including her relationship with former EastEnders actor Kemp, and her affair with her former deputy Andy Coulson.
She met Kemp in 1995, and they became engaged the following year but split in 1997.
A year later they re-kindled their relationship, and by 2001 they talked about children and marriage.
Brooks, wearing a grey dress with scalloped detail, said: "We brought up the subject of… taking things more seriously and buying a house and getting married and having children."
Laidlaw said "I'm sorry I have to do this" and pointed out that Brooks had lowered her voice as she spoke about children.
Brooks appeared to well up as she asked for a break.
Following the short adjournment Brooks recovered her composure and went back into the witness box.
She told the court that in 2001 she had started fertility tests and by June of that year the couple got married.
She said: "I started fertility treatment in mid-2001 and continued into 2002."
But the marriage came under strain in 2003 with the start of the Iraq War.
Brooks said both she and Ross were working "incredibly long hours" and she moved to a hotel to be near the office in Wapping.
She said: "It was a tough year for us. Basically, life was put on hold for Iraq."
The court heard that the couple eventually split in 2005, but it was amicable.
Brooks said: "I am sure if Ross was here he would say the same. Our whole relationship was a rollercoaster, and so sometimes it was good, sometimes it was not so. I think that's how he would describe it."
As Laidlaw moved on to her relationship with former deputy and co-defendant Coulson, Brooks said: "Andy had always worked on The Sun and me the News of the World in our early careers and so we didn't work together until 1998."
She said the pair became good friends through fellow journalist Chris Blythe, a close friend of Coulson's, who died in an accident abroad.
She said: "Andy and I in 1996 were good friends, we became good friends through Chris Blythe, but it wasn't until 1998 that Andy and I became close."
The court heard that they became "close" again between 2003 and 2005, when things were tough with Kemp.
Under questioning from Laidlaw, Brooks admitted that there was a "further brief period of intimacy" with Coulson in 2006.
Brooks denied that she had been involved in a relationship with Coulson (pictured above: Credit Reuters) for six years.
Commenting on the letter she wrote to Coulson, Brooks admitted it was written at a time "of emotional anguish" and possibly "after a few glasses of wine".
Speaking frankly about her personal life, the former tabloid editor said she had re-read the note, which was found on her computer by police investigating alleged phone hacking, several times.
The date stamp on the file suggested it was written in February 2004, the court heard.
Brooks told the jury: "I seem to remember sometimes I would write things down to myself. Obviously it's a letter and I probably woke up the next morning and thought better of it. I don't think I finished it, in fact.
"I don't know if anyone has been in this situation but at a time of hurt you come home at night and have a few glasses of wine and you probably shouldn't go on a computer but obviously that's what I did. I wrote my feelings down at that moment…
"Obviously I wrote it in a letter form. Perhaps with the intention of finishing it and sending it but I probably thought better of it the next day."
She denied prosecution claims that she and her former deputy Coulson were in a relationship for six years.
"Firstly, it's not true," she told the Old Bailey. "I know that's what the police and prosecution say, having analysed the letter.
"At the time I wrote this, I was in a great deal of emotional anguish, as I think you can tell from the letter, and the six-year period was me referring back to 1998. Obviously I've read that a lot since the police seized it. I have probably over-analysed it."
The jury has already seen the highly-charged letter. It said: "The fact is you are my very best friend. I tell you everything, I confide in you, I seek your advice, I love you, care about you, worry about you. We laugh and cry together… in fact without our relationship in my life, I am really not sure how I will cope.
"I'm frightened to be without you… but bearing in mind 'the rules' you will not know how I am doing and visa versa. The thought of finding out anything about you or your life from someone else fills me with absolute dread."
She said: "Any affair, by its very nature, is quite dysfunctional. It certainly added a complexity to what was a very good friendship."
She met her current husband Charlie Brooks (pictured above credit: Reuters) in March 2007.
"My personal life was a bit of a car crash for many years. It's probably very easy to blame work but the hours were very long and hard and you got thrown together in an industry like that. It was wrong and it shouldn't have happened but things did.
"Ross was a good man but the two of us weren't meant to be and certainly Andy and I weren't meant to be. When I met Charlie, I was happy for the first time."
The couple decided to go for surrogacy because of Rebekah Brooks' fertility issues, and her cousin agreed to carry their baby.
Their daughter was born on 25 January 2012. Speaking about her and husband's decision to use a surrogate, she said: "It's a big thing to do.
"My mum was out shopping in Warrington one day and she bumped into my cousin who I was very close with at school.
"My cousin asked mum how we were getting on, how the latest treatment had gone on and mum said they are going to knock it on the head, I think. They knew it was a very, very small chance anyway, and she said 'I'll do it'.
"And she did."
Laidlaw then said he had finished questioning Brooks about her personal life.
All of the defendants deny all of the charges.
The trial continues.