Out of the Darkness

Celebrities Shine a Light on Infertility

Nicole Kidman once said “[a]nyone that’s been in the place of wanting another child or wanting a child knows the disappointment, the pain and the loss that you go through trying and struggling with fertility.” The agony of infertility is frequently compounded by the fact that many suffer in silence. However, recent campaigns and articles, such as the #SaytheFword campaign and the recent Vogue article about Lena Dunham’s decision to remove her uterus are bringing this issue to light. There is power in speaking and we can learn from one another’s experiences.

A recent article from People, “10 Celebrities on Dealing with Infertility” by Julie Mazziotta, highlights the plight of some of America’s most famous women. One of the most striking aspects of this article is the variety of complications which exist within the term “infertility” and how this issue isn’t a “one size fits all” type of disease. For example, Tia Mowry-Hardrict had trouble conceiving and Courteney Cox said “I get pregnant pretty easily, but I have a hard time keeping them.”

Furthermore, the paths available to create a family are seemingly more complex than the problems which lead to infertility. While Chrissy Teigen was able to conceive using IVF, Kim Kardashian turned to surrogacy, and Emma Thompson ultimately adopted a child. Thompson stated, “I couldn’t have more children, and that was hard; but perhaps if I had [more biological children], I’d have missed out on this extra act of mothering that I’ve had with Tindy,” who Thompson adopted in 2003.

One of the lasting questions that this article presents is how do we speak to one another about fertility? Gabrielle Union, who endured eight or nine miscarriages, states that the hardest part of infertility are the questions. “For so many women, and not just women in the spotlight, people feel very entitled to know, ‘Do you want kids?’” she says. “A lot of people, especially people that have fertility issues, just say ‘no’ because that’s a lot easier than being honest about whatever is actually going on. People mean so well, but they have no idea the harm or frustration it can cause.” She indicates that the subject must be broached with caution. Well-meaning questions can often cause more harm than good and ultimately silence women who are already struggling to find their voices.

Ultimately, we must be sensitive when speaking to one another about infertility. Although 1 in 8 couples struggle with this disease, we can all play a role in creating an environment that facilitates open communication. If we want individuals to speak, we must learn how to listen.

By: Jennifer Brandt