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Millions of people struggle with infertility each year, including some of your favorite celebrities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 percent of the female population (around 6.1 million women) between ages 15-44 are struggling to get pregnant. Infertility has several causes, including age, endometriosis, and tubal occlusion. (It's even a common occurrence in men, too.) There are other options to help bring a baby into the world, for those who are privileged to receive it, like in vitro fertilization (IVF), a gestational surrogate, adopting, and freezing your eggs.
To make the conversation less taboo, Hollywood A-listers from Anne Hathaway to Angela Bassett to Chrissy Teigen to Kim Kardashian-West have spoken out about their experiences with infertility. Discussing the topic allows more women to understand that they aren't alone, and normalizes the concept that everyone's journey to becoming pregnant is different. Ahead, 40 celebrities who opened up about their fertility struggles.
In 2015, Chrissy Teigen told Tyra Banks about her struggle with IVF treatments. “John [Legend] and I were having trouble. We would have had kids five [kids] six years ago if it had happened,” she told Banks. "But my gosh, it’s been a process."
Teigen later froze her eggs and was able to get pregnant with her daughter, Luna, as well as her son, Miles. That didn't stop her from explaining the frustrations with the constant questions of when she and Legend were going to start a family.
“It’s a sweet question. It comes from a good place, but sometimes you never know what the person [is going through],” she said to E! News. “What you really want to say [is], ‘I’m trying and I can’t.’”
In her tell-all book, We're Going to Need More Wine, Gabrielle Union shared her troubles of getting pregnant with her husband, Dwyane Wade. "I have had eight or nine miscarriages," wrote Union. "For three years, my body has been a prisoner of trying to get pregnant— 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 August 2018, Union revealed she was diagnosed with adenomyosis, which she realized might have been why she couldn't get pregnant. The hardest part of it all, Union explained, was the constant questions from people if she wanted to be a parent.
"For so many women, and not just women in the spotlight, people feel very entitled to know, 'Do you want kids?'" she told People. "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."
“Anyone 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,” she said on Australia’s 60 Minutes in 2011. “Fertility is such a big thing, and it’s not something I’ve ever run away from talking about.”
The Big Little Lies actress struggled to conceive with ex-husband Tom Cruise, and they decided to adopt two kids, Isabella and Connor. After marrying Kieth Urban in 2006, the couple was able to conceive and give birth to a daughter, Sunday Rose, two years later. They used a gestational surrogate to have their second daughter, Faith.
“We were in a place of desperately wanting another child,” Kidman said on the show. “This opportunity arose for us, and I couldn’t get pregnant…children are children—you’ll die for your children. And when you feel that as a parent—that’s the unconditional love.”
Shortly after giving birth to their first-born, North, the Kardashian-West family had a hard time getting pregnant with their son, Saint.
"I had so many complications. I had this condition called placenta accreta. There were a couple little operations to fix all that, so that created a little hole in my uterus, which I think made it really tough to get pregnant again," Kardashian-West said in 2015 with C Magazine. "It was a long road. I would go to the doctor in Beverly Hills every day at five in the morning to get tested to see if I was ovulating."
After the birth of their son, the couple decided to use a gestational surrogate for their daughter, Chicago, and son, Pslam.
Jimmy Fallon and Nancy Juvonen
On the The Tonight Show: At Home Edition, host Jimmy Fallon and his wife opened up about their five-year journey with IVF.
“At a certain point it had to almost become a job because it’s way too emotional to live emotionally through that,” said Juvonen. “So you just keep going and going and going, and if you really want something, you just make it happen. And you have all of these things where you go, ‘Yeah, but I would never do that. Yes, but I would never to that, but I would never ...’ Then, all the sudden, you’re like, ‘Hey, I’ll do that. If it’s for my family, I’ll do anything.’”
In a 1998 interview with Good Housekeeping, the supermodel and actress opened up about suffering three miscarriages.
"After the first miscarriage, I tried to take the attitude that it was my body's way of telling me that this pregnancy wasn't meant to be," Brinkley said. "But after the second one, it was really devastating. Four months is a lot of living with that little life in you—thinking about it, eating right for it, nurturing it and all of a sudden, it dies. After the second one, we decided to try in vitro, because both Peter and I felt we couldn't handle another failure."
The talk show host spoke to People about the anxiety she had with IVF, which eventually led to the birth of her son, Moses, in 2019.
“At one of the first fertility clinics, it was so eye-opening, I walked in, and there were probably 200 women going in and out," she recalled to the magazine. "You’re smacked with the reality of ‘You’re not alone,’ but it didn’t feel empowering. It felt sad because I thought, ‘We’re not alone, but we’re all still holding on to some hope that some of us will have to give up along the way.’”
She continued,“I’m thinking, ‘Wait a minute. What have I done wrong here?’ Somehow, like Rocky, I kept getting up.”
In her autobiography, Extreme, Survivor, Sharon Osbourne opened up about her experience with trying to conceive after their third child, Jack, was born and why they didn't have a fourth child.
"Sadly, it didn't work. After I had Jack, I got a stomach infection, and I didn't treat it, so the infection spread into my tubes and messed them up," she wrote. "So we went through IVF, but oh my God, I just couldn't take that ride. The wait for the results, for each phone call, was mental torture. It did me in, and I couldn't go through it again."
The Food Network star shared her and husband Ryan Biegel's struggles with IVF on Instagram after getting married in September 2018.
"We were trying, I had to have surgery to correct a problem, got an infection, then I was so run down I got shingles. My doctor advised us to try IVF. We just finished the intense process only to get zero healthy embryos," Lee wrote. "Not only is IVF physically exhausting, the emotional toll is unparalleled. We were filled with hope and excitement only to be crushed."
She continued, "I know a family will happen for us, it is just going to be a different journey than we imagined. We will keep working towards it. Someday we will have our happy new beginning and I pray any of you experiencing the same will have yours too."
On The Talk in 2011, the then-co-host opened up about her struggles with infertility on the daytime show.
“We went through the process. There are all these shots, they make your body crazy, they make you emotional, they hurt. I was getting shots every day. I wasn’t telling you guys my husband and I were going through this at home together. He hated giving me the shots, he probably cried more than I did,” she said. “After going through a lot of procedures and spending a lot of money…the doctor said, ‘Look, based on what we’re seeing here, I just don’t think this is going to happen for you.'"
Tyler then continued speaking about her partner, Jeff Tietjens, of over 20 years, saying, “The hardest part is I really love my husband— he’s such a good person and he would be such a great father. But we just decided it wasn’t worth it to go through that and so we decided to stop. It was better to not go through that torture."
After suffering a miscarriage in 2008, the singer told Barbara Walters on 20/20 she used acupuncture and fertility treatments to get pregnant with twins, Moroccan and Monroe.
"The main thing I did that was tough, was to go on progesterone like every month...and then when I was pregnant, I had to stay with the progesterone for 10 weeks," she said. "It minimizes the chance of miscarriage by 50 percent."
The Late Night actress suffered a miscarriage in 1997, but two years later, she gave birth to her daughter, Gaia, through IVF.
"After that, we tried to have another child, it didn't work, and I went into a deep clinical depression," she told Entertainment Weekly about trying to conceive again. "It's only now that I no longer count other people's children or judge myself harshly for not providing my daughter with a sibling."
In 2003, she and her partner actor Greg Wise adopted a former child soldier from Rwanda named Tindy. "I couldn't have more children, and that was hard; but perhaps if I had [had more], I'd have missed out on this extra act of mothering that I've had with Tindy," Thompson told The Guardian in 2010. "Because there was space in my life for him, and I don't think there would have been space if I'd had another young child around."
"I get pregnant pretty easily, but I have a hard time keeping them," the Friends actress joked to People, and said that the couple would "bounce back pretty quickly" after each miscarriage.
"I don’t say it’s a walk in the park. But what are you going to do? We just try again.” Cox and ex-husband David Arquette welcomed a daughter, Coco, in 2004 through IVF.
"It’s so funny when I was 23 years old, I used to tell myself, ‘In three years, I’m going to have kids.’ Then I turned 24. ‘In three years, I’m going to have kids,'” the supermodel told Chrissy Teigen in 2015 on their talk show FABlife. “Every single year I kept saying that. And then after a while it’s like, ‘Okay, now I want to.’ And it’s not so easy.”
Banks also told People,“I’ve had some not happy moments with that, very traumatic moments. It’s difficult as you get older. It’s not something that can just happen.”
She welcomed a son York via a gestational surrogate in 2016.
Before getting pregnant with her son, James, the Hart of Dixie star revealed she suffered five miscarriages, had five rounds of IVF, and 26 rounds of intrauterine insemination.
“I was hiding what I was going through for so long, and I hear about so many women going through what I went through," she told People. "If I’m open about it, hopefully it won’t be so taboo to talk about it.”
Sarah Jessica Parker
While the Sex and the City actress gave birth to her oldest child in 2002, her twin daughters with husband Matthew Broderick were born via gestational surrogate in 2009.
“Meeting your children rather than giving birth to them, it's as if, um, it's—suspended animation. The gestational experience is gone. It's as if everything else disappears for a moment, and the world goes silent and—I can't explain it except to say that nothing else existed," she told Vogue on meeting her twins. "I don't remember anything but the blanket on the bed that they were lying on and my husband's face and their faces and my son's. It's literally as if sound is sucked from the room. Time stands still. It's so different, and equally extraordinary. I am very poor at describing it. But it's amazing."
In her memoir Down Came The Rain, the model detailed her struggles with starting IVF at 36 years old.
"The whole process was quite an ordeal, and we became slaves to the time of day and to little vials of liquid," Shields wrote. "We'd find ourselves out at dinner with friends, and then we'd have to sneak off to a coat room, where we'd huddle over syringes and a travel-size cooler filled with small bottles of drugs."
She gave birth to a daughter in 2003 using IVF, and one without in 2006.
"I felt like I failed, because I didn't know how common miscarriages were because we don't talk about them," Michelle Obama said on Good Morning America. "We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we're broken. So, that's one of the reasons why I think it's important to talk to young mothers about the fact that miscarriages happen, and the biological clock is real."
The former first lady had her daughters, Malia and Sasha, through IVF after experiencing some issues conceiving. "I realized that as I was 34 and 35," she said in the interview. "We had to do IVF."
The TV host went through three IVF cycles and one miscarriage before finding out that she had breast cancer. Because of her cancer treatment, she was no longer able to carry her frozen eggs. She and husband Bill Rancic used a gestational surrogate to carry their son, who was born in 2012.
"My first IVF I did get pregnant—that was the miscarriage. But the second one, I did not get pregnant, and that was the biggest kick in the stomach, because I just could not believe you go through so much to get those eggs and put them in, and when the doctor calls you, to hear, 'Oh, sorry, it didn't work.' That was the most shocking," she told CNN in 2012. "I would go, 'I'm a good person, and I could give someone the greatest life of all, but yet I can't get pregnant.'"
"We didn't want to feel like we were playing yo-yo. 'I'm pregnant. I'm not pregnant. I'm pregnant. I'm not pregnant,'" Dion said. "So, we didn't want to do this thing. But we did [have] a miscarriage. We tried four times to have a child. We're still trying. We're on the fifth try. And I tell you, if five is my lucky number, this fifth try has got to come in."
The comedian is known for being honest on social media about her struggles with IVF when she and her husband Chris Fischer were trying to conceive their son, Gene. Most recently, she's also been open about going through the treatments a second time around to give their son a sibling.
"They retrieved 35 eggs from me. Not bad for the old gal right? Then 26 fertilized! Whoa right?" she wrote on Instagram. "For all those we got 1 normal embryo from that and 2 low level mosaic (mosaic means there are some abnormal cells but can still lead to a healthy baby) So we feel lucky we got 1!"
The post caused hundreds of women to share their stories with the actress, later writing, "I have so appreciated everyone sharing their IVF stories with me. They made me feel empowered and supported."
Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness
The Greatest Showman actor married Deborra-Lee Furness in 1996 when he was 27, and she was 40. On The Jess Cagle Interview, Jackman revealed how they came to adopt their daughter Ava Eliot, and son, Oscar Maximillian.
“Because of her age, we started [trying] straightaway when we were together,” he said. “We struggled, a couple miscarriages, [in vitro fertilization] — it was not easy. It was difficult, obviously particularly on Deb. I remember saying to her, ‘We were always going to adopt — let’s just adopt now."
In an interview with Redbook, the reality star discussed her "hormones being off" when she was married to ex Lamar Odom, which led her to take action.
"I was taking hormone shots to stabilize them, and you have to take those shots consistently and they have to be done by a doctor. You can do them yourself, but I couldn't," said Kardashian. "And then after your cycle, you have to go to the doctor for ultrasounds and more testing. And if I'm in Miami and miss a treatment, I have to start all over again. It's a commitment, and I don't mind doing it, but the timing was just off."
Five years later, in an episode for Keeping Up with the Kardashians, she revealed she was only taking the treatments to sidestep her problems with Odom.
"When I was doing fertility treatments like they were more so for Lamar. I had to stop cause there was much deeper stuff that was happening in our marriage," she said in the episode. "I knew it wasn't the right situation to bring a child into, and I think I've done a lot of covering up for him, like even when it made me look like I was the problem. But I was fine taking on that burden on my shoulders because he had a lot of other deeper sh*t to deal with."
The American Horror Story actress told Oprah Winfrey she struggled with fertility treatments for seven years.
"I was devastated when it didn't happen [again and again]," she said on the show. "I had to remain hopeful and resilient and, 'Okay, let's do it again.'"
She and her husband Courtney B. Vance welcomed fraternal twins, Bronwyn and Slater, in 2006 via surrogate.
"It was a sad process for me to become a mom, and a long process," the My Big Fat Greek Wedding actor told People of her nine-year struggle with fertility treatments. "I felt so embarrassed that I couldn't have a biological child."
She and her husband, actor Ian Gomez, adopted a three-year-old daughter named Ilaria in 2008. "She turned and looked at me, and my first thought was, 'Oh, I found you.’ That’s it."
On Maria Menounos' SiriusXM radio show, the Private Practice star revealed she went through early menopause. "I don't have children. I'm not going to have kids. I went through early menopause."
After finding out she had premature menopause, her sister encouraged her to check on her fertility with a doctor. "I went and they were like, 'You have one egg.'… It was bleak," she said.
"I couldn't carry a baby...at first, I was scared. I had no idea what it entailed," the Fast & Furious star told Cosmopolitan in 2014."Then I started researching agencies. I met with one called Agency for Surrogacy Solutions. Most of the people who worked there had used surrogacy to have a child or been a surrogate themselves, so I felt like they really got it. [Surrogacy] taught me a lot to have to rely on someone else to carry my baby for me, because I'm such a private and self-sufficient person. It's the most intimate leap of faith and trust you can take."
"I had the craziest conversation with my doctor I ever thought I'd have in my life. She said, 'OK, so here's the news: We tested the five embryos. Two were bad quality, one was fair quality, and two were good quality.' She told me the sex of these children, so now I'm realizing I have kids in a freezer," she said. "It makes it real when you know the sex. I was like, 'What is happening?!' So I called my mom and said, 'Mom, you're a grandma! Here's what we've got in the freezer—don't tell anybody. Isn't this weird?' It was the strangest call ever."
Elizabeth Banks and her husband, Max Handelman, have two sons born with the help of a gestational surrogate in 2011 and 2012. The Pitch Perfect actress told Women's Health hearing other couples' experiences made the process easier.
"It helped that other moms had said that once they had their babies, they forgot they were ever pregnant," she said. "So once my focus became the baby and not the pregnancy, it was a very easy decision."
The Spice Girl found out she was diagnosed with endometriosis in her 20s and was told she would struggle to conceive.
"That nearly broke me, I knew I had the right partner and that I wanted to be a mum," she told Stella magazine. "I didn't give up hope; it just wasn't happening."
Five years after her diagnosis, Bunton was pregnant. She and her husband, Jade Jones, have two children together.
The Chicks guitarist opened up about her struggles with fertility and going through IVF in 2006 with ABC News.
"I think you go through almost every emotion. I know my husband felt guilty. I know I felt guilty. For a moment you sit there and think if this doesn't happen, will he love me any less?" said Robison. "And those are the self-destructive thoughts that probably you shouldn't be thinking, but I just think it's natural."
“I think that we have a very one-size-fits-all approach to getting pregnant,” Hathaway told The Associated Press at an event for her Amazon series Modern Love while pregnant with her second child. “You get pregnant and for the majority of cases, this is a really happy time. But a lot of people who are trying to get pregnant: That’s not really the story. Or that’s one part of the story. And the steps that lead up to that part of the story are really painful and very isolating and full of self-doubt. And I went through that.”
“I didn’t want to start a process where we spent all of our present searching after some future...when our present was so lovely and beautiful and enough,” she said to Health in 2019 on going through IVF to bring them their second child, Charley. “But I also knew I would love for Vale to have a sibling—especially because we are older, it was important to me for her to have a sibling, somebody to do life with.”
She continued, “I always say, Charley was, like, the last egg out. He really was. And we’re so blessed. Going through what we did, it makes you realize that everything has to go just right to have a healthy baby. I really feel for so many women who are struggling and wishing and wondering, ‘When’s it gonna be my turn?’ I know. And I understand.”
The Sister, Sister actress was diagnosed with endometriosis at 27 and didn't think she would be able to conceive. After going through two surgeries and a major diet change, she gave birth to a baby boy in 2011. For seven years, she and husband Cory Hardrict struggled with infertility before giving birth to their daughter in 2018.
"I didn't think I'd be able to have a second child, and it's been over seven years since my first pregnancy," said Mowry-Hardrict to People. "I put it off, but I did want to have another child. I didn't let my infertility issues define me or define what my goals were and what I wanted out of life. We did try for a long time. It was hard. But I didn't give up."
In an interview with Women's Health, the Law & Order actress spoke about finding out she couldn't conceive naturally. "I felt so many things—fear, hopelessness, shame. I was upset that I couldn’t give Ron the fairy tale. Infertility can feel like the greatest disappointment of all time because your ability to make a baby is so tangled up with your identity as a woman."
In the same interview, she told the magazine why she decided to tell her story. "At first, you don’t want to tell anyone because on some level you feel there’s a part of you that’s broken. But after seeing this stigma surrounding infertility, I thought to myself, “Why am I being silent?” I saw an opportunity to speak out and help other women going through what I went through.
Röhm had her daughter, Easton, in 2008, which later inspired her to write about her fertility struggles in her memoir, Baby Steps: Having the Child I Always Wanted (Just Not as I Expected.)
For the January 2020 cover story of ELLE, the singer answered questions from fans. When a fan asked whether she was disappointed her album Lemonade didn’t receive more awards, her answer alluded to a miscarriage she suffered before Blue Ivy.
"Success looks different to me now. I learned that all pain and loss is in fact, a gift. Having miscarriages taught me that I had to mother myself before I could be a mother to someone else," she said. "Then I had Blue, and the quest for my purpose became so much deeper. I died and was reborn in my relationship, and the quest for self became even stronger."
The Desperate Housewives alum didn't want to wait to have children, and told People that she and her husband Tom Mahoney got to work shortly after saying, "I do."
"We did in vitro a week after we got married," she said. "We were supposed to go to Greece and Paris and have this fancy honeymoon, and I said, 'Let's stay put and see if we can't give this baby a chance.'"
The actress welcomed twin daughters, Eden and Savannah, in 2007 when she was 44 years old.
"The best part about being open is when you really don't have anything to hide, it's just liberating and free," she told People. "The thing at hand that felt so heavy to carry doesn't feel so heavy anymore. It's not a burden."
The Dancing with the Stars alum has been vocal on her diagnosis with endometriosis and her journey with IVF with her estranged husband, Brooks Laich.
"It's actually a freedom where not only do I feel free, but then people can see themselves in that freedom and have the courage also to talk about it."
At a 2018 concert, the singer announced to the crowd her struggles with fertility. "I don't tell you guys for sympathy because I'm one of millions of women and men that have gone through this and will go through this." She continued, "It can't be something that defines us, but I wanted to write this song for myself in my moment of pain and sadness but also to give myself joy, to give other people something that they can listen to in that moment when it gets really hard."
She said to the crowd that featured then-boyfriend, Channing Tatum, before starting the song, "So if you've ever experienced anything with this or have seen somebody else go through it or have lost a child, then please know you're not alone in your pain, and I'm thinking of you when I sing this song."
On The Kelly Clarkson Show, the Saturday Night Live alum opened up about her experience trying to conceive with her husband, Bill Kennedy.
"We're doing IVF right now, actually," she said on the show. "This Valentine's Day I'll be getting shots in my butt by my husband...but the hormones are very intense. So many people go through this, but we don't talk about it enough as women. We need to raise more understanding and awareness."
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Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. She likes lounging about with a good book and thinks a closet without platform sneakers is a travesty.
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