By: Huffington Post, Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo
When I was going through fertility treatment, “E! News” anchor Giuliana Rancic and the first “Apprentice” winner, Bill Rancic, had a reality show called, Giuliana And Bill. On it, they shared their experience with In Vitro Fertilization, miscarriage and the emotional rollercoaster one in six go through to conceive. At the time, I didn’t watch the show as I felt I was already living it but I had great respect for their openness. The show shined a light on infertility issues but on a personal level, it helped my mother gain insight into my life so she could better support me.
Lately, there seems to be a growing amount of celebrities that are sharing their path (or rocky road depending) on trying to have a baby. John Legend and Chrissy Teigen have recently opened up about their experience with IVF and the use of pre-genetic screening (PGS) to have their daughter, Luna. John Legend was quoted as saying, “People shouldn’t be ashamed of their fertility struggles” and I think so many who have trouble conceiving and keeping pregnancies are grateful to those in the public eye for educating the many who got pregnant with a simple glass of wine and good intentions.
Celebrities such as Tyra Banks, GloZell Green, Greg Rikaart and Jordana Brewster have all been open about adding to their families through IVF and surrogacy. Maria Menounos has shared her experience with several failed IVF cycles. Meghan King Edmonds from the Real Housewives of Orange County conceived her daughter Aspen through IVF which was chronicled on the reality show and Olivia Munn froze her eggs last April and has encouraged other women to do so.
On the surface, this may not seem like major news but in every case, having these celebrities come out of the infertility closet sincerely helps raise awareness to an issue that so many don’t understand. Admitting to friends and family that you are fertility challenged in some shape or form can be incredibly difficult and sensitive. Like my experience though with the Giuliana And Bill though, these real life fertility experiences can be used as a point of reference to help those around you understand your situation better.
In terms of those who have gone through treatment but aren’t open about it – I’m torn. On one hand, everyone’s privacy needs to be respected and not everyone is comfortable with sharing the exploits of their uterus with the world. While I absolutely understand, the infertile in me still feels like they are missing an opportunity to help others in being open about their struggles. There are many celebrities suspected to have used IVF, donor eggs or some form of fertility help (particularly if they are over the age of forty-two as egg quality dramatically declines) but at the end of the day, it’s no one’s business but their own.
It’s also worth mentioning that multiple IVF cycles and surrogacy are not inexpensive. Those who are not celebrities don’t have the same endless resources. When you hear, Celine Dion did approximately six IVF’s, that’s an estimated price tag of $60,000 if not more. So even though it puts fertility treatment in the limelight, it may also set unreasonable expectations on how attainable it can be.
It’s my personal hope that one day, the ability to have a baby, whether it’s insemination, IVF, surrogacy, adoption, etc. will be accessible to not just those who live on the Hollywood Boulevard, but to those who reside on Main Street U.S.A. If you are someone who has recurrent pregnancy loss, an autoimmune issue, a low sperm count or some other barrier keeping you from conceiving naturally, it would be ideal to have the same red carpet fertility treatment as any movie or television star.
Until then, I hope these celebrities encourage people to think about their fertility future and be proactive in visiting their OBGYN. It’s never too early to start asking the right questions and being informed about your body and fertility options. The stigma is still there, but anyone who is willing to share their fertility journey helps. Perhaps that’s the best way to get the word out that the diagnosis of infertility is a real, medical issue that can affect every aspect of one’s life. My deepest respect and appreciation to those who advocate on behalf of this sensitive and difficult issue.