Advocate. Inform. Empower

Every day for the month of RHM, IFAASA would like you to meet our ‘unofficial Infertility Spokespersons’. Those in the public spotlight who have shared their struggles — with natural pregnancy, IVF, surrogacy, adoption, miscarriages, early menopause and the definition of parenthood — with the world.

No longer taboo talking material, these celebs are helping to shine a spotlight on one of the most common problems women face

Often referred to as a silent disorder, infertility is rarely discussed. Fertility isn’t a problem that discriminates and each year, an increasing number of celebrities are stepping forward and sharing their personal journeys and struggles with infertility. In addition to Chrissy Teigen and Tyra Banks, a number of celebrities have spoken openly and honestly about their struggles in getting pregnant. By doing so, they play an enormous role in helping to destigmatise infertility and spark much-needed awareness and conversation.

For some reason, people are more sympathetic when celebrities are having trouble because it’s in the news, and people sympathize more for people that come into their homes every week and for people that they idolize. Sometimes the best advocacy is simple exposure.

There’s something powerful about people, especially celebrities sharing their honest, emotional paths to parenthood. It’s not always as easy as peeing on a stick and then — POOF! — you’re a mom. We need people, especially those that the world perceives as ‘perfect’ to speak publicly about their ordeals and remind us that, after all, we’re all human (regardless of post code, beauty and tax brackets), and anyone can be 1 in 6.

As much as we hold celebrities up on a pedestal, revere and envy them, they are after all just people with the same emotional and financial worries that we have.

Courtney Cox-Arquette, from Friends fame, was quoted as saying “In vitro is a wonderful thing that people can do in this day and age, and I’m lucky enough to be able to afford it.”

Tom Arnold and ex-wife, Shelby struggled with infertility for 5 years. To compensate for Tom’s low sperm count and poor motility, they tried IVF with ICSI 5 times with no success. In People, they discussed how difficult infertility has been on their marriage and the cost of IVF (Guess what? Their insurance didn’t cover it either.)

Actress Valarie Pettiford and her husband, Tony Rader have been trying to conceive for over 5 years. She told Ebony magazine, “I felt so isolated and alone. It’s difficult to talk about, but I want other women out there to know that they are not alone; there is support.”

“You grow up as a woman…thinking you’re going to have a child and that it’s just kind of your God-given right to the next step,” Dixie Chicks Martie Maguire told Good Morning America. “And then when it doesn’t happen, you’re shocked and saddened, and it’s such an emotional journey to go on.”

42-year-old Hunger Games actress Elizabeth Banks and her husband had wanted a family, but endured years of unsuccessful attempts caused by embryo implantation issues. She told the magazine FABLife “I am so tired of seeing on my social media, ‘Why don’t you have kids? Why don’t you have kids?’ You don’t know — you don’t know what I’m going through … 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.’ Every single year I kept saying that. And then after awhile, it’s like, OK, now I want to, and it’s not so easy.”

After actress and shoe designer Sarah Jessica Parker and actor hubby Matthew Broderick had their first child, James Wilkie, in 2002 they struggled to expand their family. But when James was 6 years old, Parker confirmed to Access Hollywood that she and Broderick were expecting twins via surrogate. She is quoted as saying, “I knew there would be lots of opinions about, `Well, why didn’t you adopt? Why didn’t you do this? Why didn’t you do that?’ and the truth of the matter is, it wasn’t one or the other for us … “We had explored, and continue to explore, all options, and this one just happened first. This isn’t the period at the end of the sentence.”

Many chefs often look to the wisdom of their elders in food preparation. Our grandmothers made many foods we might view as strange and off-putting now, but many like to think of these foods as our lost ‘sacred’ foods.

Right now I have unexplained infertility. However, I am not particularly fond of that term. I prefer to think of it as “not having met my infertility yet.” Because I cannot honestly say that I have tried or tested everything, that I have done every diet and exercise regime, or that I have met with several REs on my path to my infertility discovery. I would love to try everything, meet everyone and get this situation solved for good – get me a baby already! But I also suffer from a particular sect of unexplained infertility – and that would be financial infertility.

No one likes to disclose their most personal problems, even to their doctor. With that said, some secrets should be told. These secrets shouldn’t be kept from your doctor, especially if you and your partner are trying to conceive.

Is there anything a man can do to enhance his fertility? This is such a great, important question that not enough couples ask. So often we get caught up focusing on female fertility that we completely forget to acknowledge the profound role men have in the baby-making game. The good news is, “Yes!” — there are plenty of things men can do to increase the odds of successful conception.

In years past, the perception has been that an inability to conceive was attributable to problems with the woman’s reproductive functionality. But researchers like Dr. Liberty Barnes at Cambridge University who recently published the book “Conceiving Masculinity: Male infertility, medicine, and identity,” contradict the idea that this is a women’s issue. Barnes says that of those millions of people trying without success to conceive a child, 30 percent are due female factors, 30 percent are male factors, 20 percent are a combination of male and female factors, and 20 percent of cases of infertility are simply unknown.

Female infertility is a growing health concern in today’s society and often, the journey from diagnosis to treatment (or failure thereof) is fraught with uncertainty and emotional distress for a woman and her partner.

There are many causes of female infertility, which are usually investigated for and diagnosed by a gynaecologist or fertility expert. Problems with egg development, ovulation or even anatomical problems with a woman’s reproductive system may be the culprits. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Endometriosis are well-known examples of female medical conditions that can lead to reduced fertilit

Optimise fertility by addressing body stress:

Are you feeling stressed, having trouble sleeping, feeling anxious, battling with an irregular cycle or struggling to fall pregnant, or suffering from back pain, anxiety, headaches or constipation?  All of these symptoms may signal the progression of stress overload which may be disrupting the body’s optimal functioning.

  The value of Integration: Benefits of a holistic approach to fertility using complimentary therapies alongside conventional medicine

 A clinical diagnosis of sub- or infertility often sets off a whole chain of events and previously unforeseen tests and treatments for couples who may have already been starting to stress at their failure to fall pregnant as the months pass by.

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