Celebs who've opened up about their fertility struggles
Famous women include Beyonce, Nicole Kidman, Michelle Obama
Following Jenna Bush Hagar’s announcement on “TODAY” earlier this week, as she told fans that she and her husband are expecting their third child, meteorologist Dylan Dreyer later in the show bravely revealed her own personal news: an emotional battle with infertility.
In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, Dreyer spoke about a recent miscarriage and her infertility struggle, and said she hopes to “shed the stigma” by sharing her truth.
Due to her emergency C-section with her first-born, Dreyer is unable to conceive, and is now exploring alternative methods. In fact, about 10 percent of women experience difficulty getting or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We thought we'd shine a light on all the celebrities who've spoken about their own struggles or unique situations.
1.) Elizabeth Banks
Kicking off our list is Banks, who referenced her "broken belly" in a blog entry back in 2011. The post, in which Banks introduces her newborn son, Felix, reads, in part: "After years of trying to get pregnant, exploring the range of fertility treatments, all unsuccessful, our journey led us to gestational surrogacy: we make a 'baby cake' and bake it in another woman's 'oven.'"
Really, it only feels appropriate that Banks used some humor in her analogy. Banks and her husband went on to have a second son, also through surrogacy, about a year after Felix's arrival.
2.) Tyra Banks
The “America’s Next Top Model” host welcomed a son in January 2016 who was born through gestational surrogacy. But Banks did a lot of in vitro fertilization leading up to that. She said once in an interview, “On Cycle 22's final runway, at the [Walt] Disney Concert Hall, I had to go into a back closet and give myself my final shot, and that was the seventh round of IVF.”
3.) Angela Bassett
Bassett, of “American Horror Story” fame, alongside her husband, Courtney B. Vance, has spoken publicly several times about how long it took to conceive the couple’s twins. Bassett told Oprah the pair eventually opted to use a surrogate, after enduring seven years of failed fertility treatments. Bassett has also spoken to Jet magazine about the couple's struggles.
Beyonce proved she was one of us after all, when she shared in her 2013 HBO documentary, “Beyoncé: Life Is but a Dream,” that she suffered a miscarriage before Blue Ivy was born, and then reportedly got "frustrated" after unsuccessful IVF treatments. Queen Bey and husband Jay-Z were even looking into surrogates and adoption, according to published reports, before the couple went on to have two healthy twins, Rumi and Sir, carried by Beyonce herself.
5.) Jordana Brewster
The “Fast and the Furious” actress spoke to Cosmopolitan magazine in October 2014 about motherhood and the experience of using a surrogate. She said, in part, "I couldn't carry a baby. At first, I was scared. I had no idea what [surrogacy] entailed. Then I started researching agencies. ... [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."
6.) Mariah Carey
When Carey got together with her (now-ex) husband Nick Cannon, Carey was nearly 40. But the two wanted to have a baby together, so they tried naturally at first -- and suffered a miscarriage in 2008. After some continued struggles, the pair decided to go through IVF. They successfully went on to have a set of healthy twins, perhaps thanks to the advice from Carey’s friend, Celine Dion, who recommended acupuncture to reduce Carey's stress levels. It’s been said that acupuncture might improve your chances of pregnancy, in some cases. Carey talked about the practice to Access Hollywood in 2010.
7.) Courteney Cox
“I had a bunch of miscarriages,” the “Friends” star reportedly said in her Facebook Watch web series, “9 Months with Courteney Cox,” which follows 10 couples with different pregnancy experiences. “But I was lucky enough to have my little girl, Coco, who I had through IVF.”
“If I can share any light or give wisdom to somebody, or hope, of course, I would share anything I can,” Cox told Entertainment Tonight. “I think that’s important.”
8.) Celine Dion
As mentioned above, it was Dion who recommended acupuncture to Carey for help getting and staying pregnant. Dion and her (now late) husband René Angélil started trying for kids when Dion was in her 30s, but they didn't have any luck. Years later and after seven IVF cycles, the couple finally had their sons, first, René-Charles, and then twins Nelson and Eddy.
Regarding those seven IVF cycles, Dion once said in an interview, "I thought as long as my health permitted me and unless my doctor thought physically I couldn’t do it, then I would go on with the IVF until someone told me to stop.”
9.) Lena Dunham
Dunham has been very open about her decade-long struggle with endometriosis pain -- and she’s even posted about her decision to undergo a hysterectomy at the age of 31. There’s still a chance Dunham could be a mother someday, considering the available options like egg freezing and surrogacy, and she told Vogue that those possibilities, coupled with the idea of adoption, (are) a “thrilling truth I’ll pursue with all my might.”
10.) Jimmy Fallon
Fallon, host of “The Tonight Show” said on “TODAY” that he and his wife, Nancy Juvonen, endured a five-year infertility struggle before having their daughter, Winnie, via a surrogate. "We've tried a bunch of things," he told host Savannah Guthrie. "Anyone who's tried will know -- it's just awful."
11.) Camille Grammer
“Speaking of childbirth, I had my children through surrogacy," the former star of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills has said, according to a blog. "If you can’t get pregnant for whatever reason, it’s great to know that there are options available for people that want to have a family. I wish I could have had that experience. I’m just so grateful I had a wonderful surrogate who carried our two children. I have two amazing angels in my life that I love so much. They are such a gift and a blessing from God.”
Grammer was married to Kelsey Grammer from 1997 to 2011. Their kids, Mason and Jude, are now teenagers.
12.) Shawn Johnson
The gold medal-winning former gymnast shared that she felt guilty after miscarrying her first baby.
"I felt sad," Johnson said. "And I remember telling Andrew (East), 'I'm sorry I lost your baby.' I felt like it was something that I did. I didn't take care of the baby well enough. I was stressed out too much. Or I didn't take the right prenatal vitamins. There are all these different guilts and thoughts and negative feelings … like, I failed my baby. … I felt like I was (uninhabitable). Like, no baby's going to live inside this belly."
The good news is, just more than a year later, the two are expecting!
13.) Khloe Kardashian
After years of wanting a baby -- which was pretty well-documented on reality TV during Kardashian’s marriage to then-NBA star Lamar Odom -- she finally got one: her daughter, True, was born in April 2018. Odom was out of the picture by then, and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson is True’s father, but that’s neither here nor there.
Kardashian had explored the possibilities of parenthood with Odom, and at the time, the situation on TV seemed to be chalked up to unexplained infertility. When Kardashian was questioned about this years later, she clarified: “I did all my treatments, but then when we did further testing, we realized I was NOT the one with the issue. ... It takes two to have a baby.”
14.) Nicole Kidman
Kidman and husband Keith Urban surprised fans in 2010 when they announced the birth of their daughter, Faith, born through a gestational carrier. Kidman has since spoken openly about her ups and downs with fertility, according to ABC News.
15.) Hoda Kotb
The “TODAY” host had always wanted to be a mom, but a battle with breast cancer a decade ago left her unable to conceive, according to Southern Living. "Sometimes in your life, things just don't work out for whatever reason, so you say, 'Well, I wasn't meant to have that.' But it was really hard to come to terms with it." Fast-forward to today, Kotb has two adopted daughters: Hope Catherine and Haley Joy.
(For what it’s worth, perhaps this is proof that it’s never too late! Kotb became a new mother at the age of 52!)
16.) Jana Kramer
The country music star spoke to People magazine about getting pregnant naturally with both of her children, after two failed IVF cycles. What are the odds?
17.) Joan Lunden
The former “Good Morning America” host has joked that she’s the “poster child” for infertility. Having children through a surrogate was still a bit of a novelty when Lunden did it in 2003 and again in 2005.
“Families these days are made in many different ways,” she once said to Newsmax Health. “It’s really a wonderful amazing thing that there are women in this world who are so selfless that they will carry a child for another couple, that will help them make a family.”
Lunden even did a big spread with People magazine back in 2003, detailing her circumstances.
18.) Maria Menounos
Menounos has been very public about her journey, chatting about it on her satellite radio show, posting about it on social media -- heck, she’s even Snapchatted her egg-retrieval process.
19.) Michelle Obama
The former first lady shared in her memoir that she and her husband, former President Barack Obama, conceived their daughters, Sasha and Malia, via IVF. Michelle also said in the book that she felt very alone after suffering a miscarriage, about 20 years ago.
20.) Sarah Jessica Parker
Parker suffered from secondary infertility, which is when you struggle to conceive after already giving birth to a child. When she was filming the movie “Did You Hear About the Morgans?”, which came out in 2009, she and her husband, Matthew Broderick, shared with the world that they were expecting twins through surrogacy. Elle magazine credits the announcement with sparking a national conversation about surrogacy: the economics and the reasoning behind it.
"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,” Parker said.
She went on to tell the magazine that she and Broderick had explored all their options. This just so happened to come first.
21.) Giuliana Rancic
Rancic’s story could fill a book -- but we’ll let the “E!” host do the talking: She penned a really poignant piece called “#LetsTalkFertility” in April 2018, in which she discusses “hundreds of shots, multiple rounds of IVF, miscarriage and heartbreak.”
She writes, “No one ever told me, ‘Oh, by the way, your eggs change when you reach a certain age.’ I definitely had misconceptions about my fertility. … Unfortunately, fertility is a topic that people don’t talk about – it makes them uncomfortable. There is still stigma and silence that is attached to fertility issues that is painful to the core. But the truth is, 1 in 8 couples in the U.S. are impacted by infertility, so it’s time we shift the cultural narrative by talking about it. Now more than ever, this feels like the right time to normalize the conversation around fertility.”
22.) Elisabeth Rohm
Rohm, perhaps best known for her role as Serena Southerlyn on “Law & Order,” wanted to be the one who told her story, as well. So she wrote a book called, “Baby Steps: Having the Child I Always Wanted (Just Not As I Expected).”
Here’s what she said on the topic of infertility to New York Metro Parents: “I discovered at 34 that I had fertility issues and that if I wanted to have a child I needed to do IVF pretty aggressively, which came as a shock to me. We kept it to ourselves. We only shared it with our very closest family members. But after talking to a girlfriend who was on her third miscarriage and who felt like she needed to get some help, I decided to tell her I had done IVF. There was this instant feeling of connection in telling the truth about it and this relief in being able to help her find the right doctor. We need to move the ball down the field of talking about infertility openly and not being ashamed of it, if we’re experiencing it.” Hats off, Elisabeth!
23.) Brooke Shields
After a miscarriage and undergoing several rounds of IVF to no avail, Shields tried one final round of IVF at the age of 36, according to Fertility Today. And it worked -- Shields got pregnant in 2002 and gave birth to her daughter, Rowan, in 2003. She wrote about the experience in her memoir, according to reports.
24.) Amy Smart
Last year, Smart took to her Instagram page to share a sweet photo of her and her daughter -- and mentioned using a surrogate to carry the baby after years of her own infertility struggles. The post is flooded with comments from well-wishers, including users saying things like, “Thank you for being open about your fertility struggles, @smarthouse26. Your honesty helps destigmatize it and helps anyone going through it feel more normal and OK. Bless you and your perfect daughter.”
25.) Trista Sutter
The “Bachelorette” alum called her two-year infertility struggle “definitely a dark time in my life,” in an article in US Weekly. She and her husband, Ryan Sutter, went on to have two children, but she detailed her struggles and the insecurities she felt while promoting her book in 2015.
26.) Chrissy Teigen
These days, Teigen and husband John Legend have their hands full, chasing after two kids. But it wasn't always like this.
"I will say, honestly, John and I are having trouble," Teigen confessed in 2015, adding that they'd seen fertility doctors. "We would have kids five, six years ago if it'd happened. But my gosh, it's been a process! ... So, any time somebody asks me if I'm going to have kids, I'm like, 'One day, you're going to ask that to the wrong girl who's really struggling, and it's going to be really hurtful to them. And I hate that. So, I hate it. Stop asking me!'" Tyra Banks, mentioned up top, got emotional about her own journey during the "FABLife" discussion, as well.
27.) Gabrielle Union
"If you happen to have issues with fertility as you've gotten older and you happen to have a career, all is not lost," said Union, the wife of Dwayne Wade, during a visit to "TODAY."
"There is so much hope, there are so many options."
In an interview with Redbook, she said, "So far, it has not happened for us. A lot of my friends deal with [struggles to have a baby]. There's a certain amount of shame that is placed on women who have perhaps chosen a career over starting a family younger." She went on to say that it's important not to feel that shame.
28.) Kate Walsh
"I don’t have children. I’m not going to have kids," the actress told Maria Menounos on her SiriusXM radio show. "I went through early menopause."
29.) Kim Kardashian West
When you’re Kardashian West, not a lot in your life is able to slide under the radar. She’s made headlines many times in recent years for her fertility. Kardashian West carried her first two children, then used a surrogate for her third baby, Chicago, and the one she and husband Kanye West are currently expecting.
Kardashian West developed placenta accreta, a condition in which the placenta doesn't detach from the wall of the womb properly, which is why she says she’s now using a carrier.
She revealed in “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” that the damage left her with a hole in her uterus that required surgery if she was to conceive again. Kardashian West underwent the surgery, but it was unsuccessful. Marie Claire reports that she said, “I can’t carry any more kids. It’s the worst. It’s not going to be happy for me. I had a full break down. I give up.”
30.) Marisa Jaret Winokur
The bubbly “Hairspray” star beat cervical cancer at the age of 27, but lost her cervix and uterus. With that, she lost the possibility of getting pregnant herself, but fortunately enough, found a surrogate she bonded with and trusted.
"The second I met her, I knew, ‘This was it. This was the woman.' Exactly six months later, we were pregnant." Watch Winokur as she tells her story in this YouTube video from Redbook magazine.
31.) Mark Zuckerberg
The Facebook founder and his wife, Priscilla Chan, cut right to the chase when announcing their pregnancy on -- well, what other platform would you expect? -- Facebook (of course!)
"Priscilla and I have some exciting news: we're expecting a baby girl! ... We want to share one experience to start. We've been trying to have a child for a couple of years and have had three miscarriages along the way.
"You feel so hopeful when you learn you're going to have a child. You start imagining who they'll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they're gone. It's a lonely experience. Most people don't discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you -- as if you're defective or did something to cause this. So you struggle on your own. In today's open and connected world, discussing these issues doesn't distance us; it brings us together. It creates understanding and tolerance, and it gives us hope." Read the rest of the post.
Graham Media Group 2019