It does not matter your race or celebrity status; infertility does not discriminate. One in eight women or couples of childbearing age experience infertility. For years, individuals went through the fertility process feeling alone. But in recent years, celebrities have been very vocal and used their status to bring infertility to the spotlight.
For Black History Month, we celebrate eight black celebrities for shining a light on a taboo topic; allowing others who are suffering to know they are not alone.
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, have been very open and honest about their fertility struggles. They shared the heartbreak of a miscarriage of their third pregnancy on Instagram – four black and white grief filled photos. The following year during National Infertility Awareness Week, Teigen joined the Fertility Out Loud health campaign, a collaboration between RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and Ferring Pharmaceuticals. The purpose of the campaign is to bring awareness to infertility.
In an interview with Glamour she says so many brave women have spoken about a feeling of brokenness, of failure, while trying to become a mother. “To be alone and isolated in that feeling is the worst,” Teigen says. “And I don’t want any woman to have to go through that feeling alone, ever.”
During the 2018 BlogHer conference in New York City, Gabrielle Union spoke about her diagnosis of adenomyosis and how it affected her fertility. She had been seeing doctors since her 20’s because of heavy periods lasting 9 or 10 days. But instead of digging deeper, she was put on birth control pills. This may have helped her symptoms, but did nothing to address the bigger issue.
She struggled to get pregnant, and suffered through one miscarriage after another. In an interview with Dr. Oz, Union said “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 2018 Gabrielle Union and her husband, NBA star Dwyane Wade, welcomed a baby girl via surrogacy.
“Just know if you are out there having fertility issues — you are not alone.” – Gabrielle Union
In an interview with People, Tamron Hall opened up about how invitro fertilization was a big part of her being able to become a mom at 48. The former “Today” host had tried fertility procedures in her 30s, but they had not been successful.
“At one of the first fertility clinics, it was so eye-opening,” she recalls. “I walked in, and there were probably 200 women going in and out…“You’re smacked with the reality of ‘You’re not alone,’ but it didn’t feel empowering,” she explains. “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 joked about all the different places she did her IVF shots including in airports, ladies rooms, and even in the back of an Uber on her way to a Cher concert. When she could not give herself the shot and her husband, Steven Greener, was not around, she enlisted the help of others including her best friend and her hairstylist.
Even after she conceived, she was still terrified the pregnancy would not last, so she did not announce she was expecting until 32 weeks. Her son, Moses, was born in 2019.
In September 2014, Aisha Tyler revealed to her co-hosts during a segment of “The Talk” that she had gone through painful and unsuccessful fertility treatments. After having multiple expensive procedures, a doctor told her that he didn’t see it happening for her. Tyler was tearful for her husband, Jeff Tietjens, because she felt he would be a great father. However, together the couple decided to stop treatment. For them, being childfree was their choice.
Speaking with HuffPost she explained:
“People who do what I do for a living can afford that stuff, but most people can’t. They mortgage their homes and they break themselves,” she said. “And by the way, most of them don’t get pregnant. We only focus on the Cinderella stories. We don’t focus on all the people that don’t do it. And I wanted people to feel — men and women — it’s okay to say, ‘I love my marriage, I love my life, I choose not to have children.'”
On her own talk show, FABlife, in 2015, while she was interviewing Chrissy Teigen, Tyra Banks suddenly found herself opening up about her own fertility struggles. While fighting back tears, she urged people to stop questioning pregnancy.
“Why am I crying? You just have no idea what people are going through, so when you ask Chrissy that or me that or anybody that, it is none of your frigging business, okay?. . .“Whether they want to have a child or don’t ever want to have a child or may have a child on the way, it’s none of your business, okay? Until somebody wants to make it your business.”
Banks shared how her plan for kids kept postponing until eventually it became a challenge to conceive. “It’s so funny when I was 23, I would tell myself, ‘In three years, I’m gonna have kids!’ And then I turned 24 and I’d say, ‘In three years, I’m going to have kids!’ And then 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.”
After setting up a nursery, complete with a tile in the bathroom that said “Mommy Already Loves You” the mega star found out her IVF treatment failed. In fact, she endured a year of failed attempts, admitting it was emotional.
In 2016 Tyra Banks, and then boyfriend Erik Asla, welcomed a son via surrogacy.
In a 2007 interview with Oprah, Angela Bassett and Courtney Vance talked about struggling to get pregnant. “It was difficult, it was challenging, it was not happening.” Bassett recalls. After many years of failed cycles, the couple welcomed twins, via surrogate.
The actress has long been an advocate for women with endometriosis. She was diagnosed at 27, and had two surgeries so she could possibly get pregnant.
Although she and her husband Cory Hardrict, had their miracle baby Cree in 2011, she did not think she would be able to have a second child. It took over seven years for her to get pregnant again.
In an interview with People she said “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.”
“Queen Bey” has always been very open with her fans, including talking about the multiple miscarriages she experienced before having her first child, daughter Blue Ivy. However, she says the pain and loss changed how she perceived her life’s goals.
“Having miscarriages taught me that I had to mother myself before I could be a mother to someone else,” she said in an interview with Elle magazine. ”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.”
Five years after Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z had their first child, the couple welcomed twins.
Many people are surprised to learn that approximately 25% percent of all pregnancies will end in miscarriage, usually during the first trimester. Approximately 5% of women will experience two consecutive miscarriages, while 1% will experience three or more. According to ASRM, “Even after having 3 miscarriages, a woman has a 60%-80% chance of conceiving and carrying a full-term pregnancy.”
Many women are extremely sensitive about fertility issues, but black women can face additional roadblocks of shame and embarrassment. The stigma around infertility (or even hyperfertility) in the black community, can cause someone to delay getting a fertility evaluation. Age is a primary factor in fertility, regardless of race. So getting a medical consultation and diagnosis early on is very important. The younger a patient is treated, the better the chance for success.
At GENESIS, we understand that taking the first step and making an appointment is scary. But our staff has been helping patients build their families for over 35 years.