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6 Celebrities Who Have Been Real About Infertility - And Why We Need to Have These Conversations

04.10.2023 / Hannah Berman
6 Celebrities Who Have Been Real About Infertility - And Why We Need to Have These Conversations

No one is obligated to disclose their health journeys, but when public figures speak out about their challenges with fertility, the benefits are far-reaching.

Fame invites a level of public scrutiny into your life that can be invasive. That’s why many celebrities choose to remain silent when it comes to health concerns. Despite their choice to have a public presence, their inner lives aren’t really any of our business.

Still, there are some celebs who have chosen to bravely expose themselves to public opinion by disclosing details about their fertility struggles for the sake of uplifting these important conversations. Infertility isn’t rare—19% of married women aged 15–49 who have never given birth struggle with infertility. Still, the complications and emotional ramifications of infertility are rarely talked about openly, or even acknowledged, in the public sphere. These celebs are changing that.

What have celebrities said about their struggles with infertility?

Infertility, which is defined as the lack of a pregnancy after a year of unprotected sex, comes in many forms. Although these celebs have dealt with different biological experiences and have differing perspectives, they all chose to speak out about their struggles conceiving because they recognize that someone else out there could benefit from hearing their stories. 

Michelle Obama: “We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we’re broken.”

Michelle Obama was vocal about her struggles with infertility on Good Morning America. She shared that she had a miscarriage and ended up conceiving her two daughters, Malia and Sasha, via IVF. 

Her reasoning for speaking up about her journey was a desire to break down walls separating women. She said, “It’s the worst thing we do to each other as women, not share the truth about our bodies, how they work and how they don’t work.” 

She wants young mothers to know that miscarriages happen frequently, and that they’re not alone even when they feel they are. The result of our silence about these issues, she said, is that “We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we’re broken.” Obama wants to help others understand that they don’t have to be alone in their pain.

Kim Kardashian: “I had to have five different operations within a year and a half to fix the damage… On the outside, I was filming."

Kim Kardashian-West put out an Instagram video in 2019 in partnership with SKIMS to speak out about her experiences with preeclampsia, which causes high blood pressure and fluid retention, and toxemia, also known as blood poisoning.

She said that because she developed these conditions, “At 34 and a half weeks, I had to go into emergency labor… North was four pounds.” After birthing North, her placenta did not emerge—a condition called placenta accreta that can cause maternal death in childbirth from severe blood loss.

Despite the risks to her own health, she did IVF and had her second child, Saint. She then had five operations to fix her uterine wall, all the while pretending nothing was wrong in her professional life; when doctors refused to impregnate her again via IVF, she ended up using surrogates for her last two children.

Chrissy Teigen: “You just look for anything to blame, especially yourself.”

Model and TV personality Chrissy Teigen has been very outspoken about her experience with IVF and her parenting journey. In an interview with the Cut, she and journalist Jen Gann spoke about IVF cycles and the stress of trying to conceive. 

Teigen said that her experience of IVF has totally shifted her perception of pregnancy. After spending many years, “trying to avoid pregnancy and hearing stories about people in high school randomly getting pregnant the first time they sleep with someone,” she said, “IVF really makes you appreciate that, my God, this is a miracle.” 

She also shared about the resentment she felt towards mothers for whom it seemed pregnancy came easily, and the tendency women have to blame themselves for their bodies’ failings.

She remarked, “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.”

That’s why, according to Teigen, it’s important to speak out about these experiences: by hearing about others’ mishaps and struggles, Teigen argues, “You realize there’s no right way to do it, or right way to react.”

Amy Schumer: “We feel lucky we got 1!”

Comedian Amy Schumer works to break down the heart-wrenching process of IVF on her Instagram. In a post from 2020, Schumer wrote, “They retrieved 35 eggs from me. Not bad for the old gal right? Then 26 fertilized! Whoah right? For all of those we got 1 normal embryo from that [...] So we feel lucky we got 1! But what a drop off right?”

During her pregnancy with her son Gene, Schumer developed hyperemesis gravidarum, an intensified version of morning sickness that ended up landing her in the hospital.

If she were to get pregnant again, she says that there is a 90% chance that she would develop the same condition. Schumer told TODAY Parents that she quit IVF cycles during the pandemic but remains interested in having another child and is considering using a surrogate.

Schumer also shared why she chose to post about her experiences on Instagram. She said that many people had reached out to tell their tales of IVF woe with her and that, “They made me feel empowered and supported.”

She continues sharing her TTC journey via her social media to connect with other people going through the same thing. 

Mariah Carey: “You can only hold back for so long before you have to talk about it.”

Singer Mariah Carey initially didn’t want to go public with the news of her miscarriage. In a 2010 interview with Access Hollywood, she explained that after a traumatic loss, she and her husband Nick Cannon asked themselves who they wanted to trust with the story. The conclusion? “No one, thank you!” 

Carey had to deal with rumors circulating about her pregnancy long before she was actually pregnant: as part of her IVF cycle, she started doing progesterone injections that made her weight fluctuate, which set off the rumor mill.

During the Access Hollywood interview, she shared, “So then everybody was like, ‘Oh the weight gain, she’s definitely pregnant!’ And I’m like, ‘Well, at some point I was,’” lamenting the attention put on her by the media in an already-tough time period. 

However, after some time, she realized, “You can only hold back for so long before you have to talk about it.” At that point, she began speaking out to benefit other people going through the same heartbreaking cycle.

Lena Dunham: “With pain like this, I will never be able to be anyone’s mother.”

Writer and actress Lena Dunham struggled with endometriosis for a decade before making the choice to have an elective hysterectomy, removing her uterus altogether. She was experiencing immense pain before checking herself into a hospital, and refusing to leave until something was done to stop the pain.

She detailed the experience in an essay for Vogue, writing, “Because I had to work so hard to have my pain acknowledged, there was no time to feel fear or grief. To say goodbye. I made a choice that never was a choice for me, yet mourning feels like a luxury I don’t have.”

In her essay, she writes that after her operation, “Sonograms and Instagram feeds don’t break my heart like they did when I still had a uterus that didn’t work.” 

Why does this matter?

These celebrities are putting themselves in the spotlight and being vulnerable in order to spread awareness. In a life already plagued by attention, they’re adding to the narrative in order to reach out and educate others about their condition.

When public figures speak out about their challenges with infertility and allow sensitive topics to enter the conversation, it doesn’t just normalize those issues, it also invites freer discussion.

As Michelle Obama said, when we “sit in our own pain,” it makes it harder to heal—instead, these celebrities are choosing to welcome people into their pain, in the hopes that sharing it will make it easier for all of us


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Updated 2023). Infertility FAQs.

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