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Advice from Celebrities on Fertility and IVF
September 17, 2018
Sometimes, scientific studies and statistics are not a comfort to a weary soul. Emotionally, people need support networks when dealing with difficulties. On top of this, knowing others have struggled through a similar situation and made it out alright can be an immense relief. We look up to celebrities because, well, they’re incredibly successful and charismatic people, but also people we can identify with them on some level. Read further to hear some advice from celebrities who have also struggled with fertility (or who continue to struggle), but are staying strong through it all:
Olivia Munn and Egg Freezing
Chrissy Teigen is now the mother of a 2-year-old daughter — but getting there was a long and difficult process. Well before Teigen and her husband, John Legend, welcomed Luna Simone in April 2016, she was open with fans about her struggles to get pregnant and the couple’s subsequent decision to use IVF to build their family. Let’s revisit some of the best quotes Chrissy Teigen had about IVF and fertility struggles.
In September 2015, before anyone knew that her daughter would be born just months later, Teigen alluded to her fertility struggles in a conversation with Tyra Banks on FABLife, according to Us Weekly:
“I can’t imagine being that nosy, like, ‘When are the kids coming?’ because who knows what somebody’s going through, who knows if somebody’s struggling? I would say, honestly, [that] John and I was having trouble. We would have had kids five, six years ago if it had happened, but my gosh, it’s been a process.”
One month later, Teigen revealed on another episode of FABLife that she was, indeed, pregnant, and wasted no time informing her Twitter followers that she had IVF to thank. And soon after her daughter, Luna, was born, she told People magazine that she wanted more kids and would go about having them in just the same way:
“The number of embryos we have left is not matching the number of people I want at my dinner table, so I’ll have to do it again. I wish I had frozen my eggs earlier. We have a few more on ice. Who knows what will work? … It would have been better if I had made a ton of embryos when I was already doing the shots. Because now I have to do the shot thing again. I think about that.”
While her decision to specifically choose a girl embryo was met with some controversy, Teigen was upfront about it.
“I’ve made this decision, Not only am I having a girl, but I picked the girl from her little embryo. I picked her up and was like, “Let’s put in the girl.”
“I’ve always pictured everyone around the table for the holidays and together once a week. It will be heartbreaking if it doesn’t end up happening, but hopefully, it will. We’ve got some embryos on hold.”
Now, Teigen’s wish seems to be coming true, as she just had her second baby, Miles Theodore Stephens, a couple months ago, May 2018.
Recently, Teigen opened up about the hardships with IVF [SEO2] when her first round was unsuccessful. In an interview with The Cut, she said, “You hear stories about IVF working the first try. But you’ll hear a lot more stories about when it takes a few times. Ours didn’t work the first time, and it was devastating. You realize that a lot of it is luck, and you can’t blame things on yourself.”
She talked about the tendency she had to blame herself, saying that “The first round I did of IVF when it didn’t work, I remember thinking, ‘Oh, I was on my feet too much, and that’s why.’ You just look for anything to blame, especially yourself. I think hearing stories is just really important. You realize there’s no right way to do it or right way to react.”
By sharing her perspective on IVF and infertility, Teigen shows all the gray areas and uncertainties inherent to this process and encourages women to accept them.
Gabrielle Union on IVF
With more discussion within the discourse of fertility, women have spoken up in hopes of helping other women struggling with infertility. Actress Gabrielle Union recently opened up about her infertility in her memoir titled We’re Going to Need More Wine.
You may recognize Gabrielle Union from her starring roles in movies like 10 Things I Hate About You, Bring It On, and Think Like a Man.
Gabrielle Union’s Struggle with Infertility
It wasn’t until Gabrielle Union met and married her husband, Dwayne Wade of the NBA’s Miami Heat, that she wanted children and thought she wanted to start a family. Now 45 years old, Union has experienced eight or nine miscarriages. Because of this, she decided to move forward with IVF treatments.
“For three years, my body has been a prisoner of trying to get pregnant,” Union says. “I’ve either been about to go into an IVF cycle, in the middle of an IVF cycle, or coming out of an IVF cycle.” In her memoir, Union describes her eight failed cycles of IVF and the struggles from hormonal side effects she has faced while undergoing treatment in hopes of growing her family.
In her book, she writes, “Each attempt at IVF is a loving action. So we remain here, bursting with love and ready to do anything to meet the child we’ve both dreamed of.”
Hope for Women Struggling with Fertility
OB-GYN Dr. Jessica Shephard, in an appearance on Good Morning America, discussed what women in their 40s should know about combatting their own infertility. “Women are born with a set number of eggs,” Shephard says, “and their fertility declines over time. In your 20s, you have a 25% chance of getting pregnant every month and in your 30s that declines to a roughly 10% chance.” Shephard says that women in their forties have only a five percent chance of getting pregnant. With more and more women like Gabrielle Union waiting to start a family, infertility treatments are becoming more common.
Breaking the Stigma
Many women are uncomfortable discussing their choices to wait to start a family because of the social anxiety revolving around pregnancy in a woman’s late thirties and forties. Union, through her memoir, inspires a sense of understanding for the physical and emotional toll that IVF and miscarriages have on a woman looking to start a family. Dr. Shepherd recommends talking to your doctor early if you are worried about infertility.
As more women open up about their experiences with infertility and IVF, including celebrities, the stigma can be broken about women taking control of their own reproductive health and making family planning choices.
Olivia Munn and Egg Freezing
Olivia Munn, known for her role in X-Men: Apocalypse, decided to freeze her eggs a couple years ago on the advice [SEO4] of her best friend and a mother of three, Kim Kardashian West. Kardashian recently had her third child, Chicago, who was born via a surrogate due to the difficulties of her two pregnancies.
Munn says that part of the reason she went to Kardashian West is that she’s just so knowledgeable. “Honestly, out of all of my girlfriends, she is the most knowledgeable. If you want to know about anything, she’s the girl. Truly,” Munn told Entertainment Tonight.
At first, Munn had only been debating freezing her eggs in case she decided to go through with in vitro in the future. However, after hearing Kardashian West’s story, she made up her mind to do it. Kardashian West also recommended her to her doctor.
“I was like, ‘Well, there’s no reason to, but I wanted to.’ I think every woman should, honestly. Later on, when women are going through in vitro it’s hard because you are just scrambling to get some eggs. I was able to just store a ton.” So, while 38-year-old Munn might not have made any firm decisions as to when she’s looking to conceive yet, she has definitely ensured she’ll have a better chance of conceiving if she chooses to.
Infertility and the possibility of in vitro fertilization may feel far off to some, but like Munn says, it never hurts to have a backup plan, and storing your eggs will give you more choices later in life if you change your mind about conceiving or find that you can’t get pregnant.
Freezing your eggs is no longer seen as experimental, but as a standard fertility procedure according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, so there’s also no reason to feel wary about doing it. Assisted reproductive technologies have come such a long way in the past few years so that freezing your eggs might become a very common procedure in coming years without the stigma of it being drastic or unusual.
McFly’s Harry Judd and his wife Izzy Judd open up about their fertility after their tragic miscarriage. After finally becoming pregnant for the first time, the two-faced complete heartbreak when the pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage. Izzy and Harry decided to seek professional help and turned to IVF. The proud parents of now 2-year-old Lola welcomed a second baby, a boy named Kit, in the fall of 2017. In a recent interview, the celebrity pair has opened up about the struggles of becoming a parent and all the pain and loneliness they’ve felt throughout the process.
Izzy Judd’s experience reaches a lot of women because she dealt with infertility initially, then IVF, a miscarriage, and finally, both the challenge and joy of a natural conception.
"We thought we would get pregnant after we got married and it didn't work out that way, and what followed were very, very lonely months," she said. "And it's a very long journey and a monthly cycle that I'm sure a lot of women will relate to. And so, in the end, we did turn to IVF and I'm so grateful that we did."
Izzy talked about the challenge of her miscarriage, then the following pregnancy. She called the experience “utterly devastating” so that the second round of IVF was emotionally challenging: "I think when you suffer a miscarriage, it takes away elements of the joy you should experience because you're so nervous," she said.
"For me, I felt, 'Oh goodness, not only have I got problems conceiving, can I hold onto a baby?' And that terrified me. And I had to give myself time before I went back for the next round, to truly grieve over what I'd actually just lost."
However, it did work out for the Judds: a heartwarming hospital picture of their daughter Lola holding her brother Kit testifies to it.
Hearing and talking to other people about their experiences is invaluable: it can be a window of reality and can break the misconceptions and ideals you’ve held about how things should be. Things are rarely what you’ve imagined they should be; life is tough and crazy—and celebrities and the average person alike deal with life’s curveballs. In the midst of infertility and IVF struggles, though, can be a life-changing success when your baby is born.
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