18 Celebrities Who Struggled With Infertility
Despite the fact that 7.4 million women in the US have used fertility treatments or clinics, infertility can still feel like the loneliest thing in the world. Seeing parents out and about with their babies can deliver a painful sting. But sharing your struggle with others may just help you make it through the process—and let others know they’re not alone in this journey. Over the years, a handful of Hollywood’s biggest stars have broken the silence and stepped up to share their stories. Here’s what they’ve said.
Michelle Obama-Barack Obama
In an exclusive interview with Good Morning America, the former First Lady revealed she suffered from miscarriage 20 years ago. When she hit her mid-30s, she started to become increasingly aware that “the biological clock is real” and “egg production is limited.” Her difficulty getting pregnant eventually led her to use IVF to become pregnant with daughters Malia and Sasha.
Savannah Guthrie-Michael Feldman
In a recent interview with Health magazine, the Today co-host opened up about becoming a mother to her kids Vale and Charley in her 40s. “Vale was a miracle, and Charley was a medical miracle.” She and her husband really wanted their daughter to have a sibling, but to do that meant relying on IVF. “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.”
Chrissy Teigen-John Legend
Teigen and Legend are the power couple of the moment, but before Luna and Miles were born, they faced a lot of bumps along the way. "I think it’s especially difficult when you can’t conceive naturally. You want to feel like everything’s working properly and want everything to be perfect, but sometimes it’s not,” Legend tells Cosmopolitan Magazine. Teigen went through IVF several times before getting the results they were hoping for. “You realize that a lot of it is luck, and you can’t blame things on yourself,” she tells The Cut.
Hugh Jackman-Deborra-Lee Furness
Jackman and his wife went through the ringer before they finally added the missing pieces to their family. After facing infertility, going through IVF and suffering several miscarriages, the two decided to give up trying to conceive and instead turned to adoption. The couple adopted their first child Oscar in 2000 and their daughter Ava in 2005. “The moment Oscar was born, all the heartache just melted away…You can’t even explain how incredible it is and that avalanche of emotion that comes," Jackman told E! News back in 2012.
Gabrielle Union-Dwyane Wade
Last year, Union and Wade announced the arrival of their first daughter together via surrogate. Before then, the actress had been super-open about her struggle to get pregnant. In her 2017 memoir We’re Going to Need More Wine, the actress details how she struggled with infertility, revealing she also had “eight or nine miscarriages.”
Superstar Celine Dion went through several rounds of IVF before she and late husband Rene Angélil had son Rene Charles in 2001. In a 2010 interview with People, she said she would continue getting treatments and hormone injections until they worked, and she’d become pregnant again. She welcomed twin boys later that year.
Kim Kardashian-Kanye West
Before the power couple was a party-of-six-to-be, they faced their fair share of fertility frustrations. Back in 2015, Kardashain opened up about her difficulty getting pregnant with a second child due to secondary infertility. “I didn’t know that I was going to be so open with [my fertility challenges]," she says to Glamour. "But meeting people at my fertility doctor’s office who are going through the same things I’m going through, I thought, ‘Why not share my story?’ It’s been really emotional.’”
Actress Nicole Kidman adopted two children when she was married to Tom Cruise, and later had two biological children with current husband Keith Urban. The pair’s second daughter together, Faith, was born via “gestational carrier,” a term Kidman and Urban use to indicate that baby carried by the surrogate is biologically theirs. Kidman told Australia’s 60 Minutes: “Struggling with fertility is such a big thing and it’s not something that I would run away from talking about. We were in a place of desperately wanting another child. I couldn’t get pregnant. I get emotional just talking about it, because I’m so grateful.”
Elizabeth Banks-Max Handelman
Banks has been pretty open about her struggle to become a mom, revealing she faced issues that prevented embryos from implanting in her uterus. It eventually led the pair to use a gestational surrogate with both of their sons, Felix and Magnus. "This experience has exceeded all expectations, taught us a great deal about generosity and gratitude and established a relationship that will last a lifetime,” the actress wrote on her website.
It took seven rounds of IVF and multiple daily injections of ovulation stimulants, but Brooke Shields and husband Chris Henchy now have daughter Rowan. Shields told People that humor helped them get through the hardships of infertility, along with a positive attitude. “In a way, it was a blessing that I’d started with a positive result," she said in regard to her earlier conception from IVF, which ended in a miscarriage. "I told myself it happened once, it can happen again.”
Fertility treatments coupled with acupuncture helped Mariah Carey conceive twins Moroccan and Monroe at age 40. In a _20/20 _interview with Barbara Walters, Carey explained she took progesterone every month. “Then when I was pregnant, I had to stay with the progesterone for 10 weeks. It minimizes the chance of miscarriage by 50 percent.”
Banks surprised fans with an emotionally charged reveal on an episode of the former lifestyle panel talk show, FABLife. After co-host Chrissy Teigen explained that she and John Legend were having trouble getting pregnant, Banks chimed in to share she was going through the same thing. “We’re kind of going through this similar thing with IVF,” she said. “And, you know, putting needles in your tummy every day and having to come to work and smile when you feel like you want to throw up and lay down.” In Banks’ impromptu announcement, she begged viewers to stop asking women why they haven’t had kids yet. “You don’t know what I’m going through.”
Giuliana Rancic-Bill Rancic
“I always say how I chased my career instead of chasing guys. And everybody was patting me on the back,” Rancic told Health. “No one ever told me, ‘Oh, by the way, your eggs change when you reach a certain age.’ I didn’t think 35 was old!”
Rancic went through two rounds of unsuccessful IVF before her breast cancer diagnosis. After that, the couple decided to try using a surrogate. And then the real star of Giuliana & Bill — Duke! — was born.
Emma Bunton-Jade Jones
When Bunton was 25 years old, and shortly after the Spice Girls went their separate ways, she was diagnosed with endometriosis and faced years of infertility. “That nearly broke me. I knew I had the right partner; I knew I wanted to be a mum,” she tells Stella Magazine. “I didn’t give up hope, but it wasn’t happening.” Finally, after five years of struggling with fertility issues, the former pop star learned she was pregnant. She’s since given birth to two sons, Beau and Tate, with long-time partner Jade Jones.
Jimmy Fallon-Nancy Juvonen
The Tonight Show host and wife Nancy Juvonen struggled with infertility for five years. “We’ve tried a bunch of things,” he told the Today Show. “Anyone who’s tried will know, it’s just awful.” But finally, and kind of secretly, they opted for a surrogate. Voilà! Daughter Winnie was born. “I know people have tried much longer [than we have], but if there’s anyone out there who is trying and they’re just losing hope … just hang in there,” he said.
Law and Order’s Elizabeth Röhm spoke with The Bump about her struggle with infertility. IVF helped her conceive daughter Easton August at age 34. She encourages women to have their FSH (Follicle-stimulating hormone, responsible for egg development) levels checked by age 30, so they can determine their “ovarian reserve,” or age-related fertility potential. A high FSH level is associated with lower fertility potential, so she may want to start considering infertility treatment.
Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross knew it could be tough to get pregnant when she didn’t marry until 42. She and her husband, stockbroker Tom Mahoney, actually skipped a honeymoon to start IVF treatment. “Before I hit 30, I was already longing for kids. But for years, love and marriage eluded me,” she told Health. “In my early forties, I considered adoption, and I tried getting pregnant on my own through a sperm donor, but neither worked out… It’s very, very difficult to get pregnant in your forties.” But it worked; Cross is now mom to two daughters, Savannah and Eden.
This Dixie Chicks instrumentalist has four kids now, and admitted to ABC that “when they’re climbing all over me, it’s bizarre to talk about infertility problems. But thank God for science.” IVF treatment helped her conceive all of her children. She also discussed the guilt and stress she had over her inability to become pregnant: “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?”
Updated April 2019
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.Plus, more from The Bump:
A Guide to Infertility Treatments and Fertility Drugs
10 Fertility-Boosting Foods to Help You Get Pregnant
11 Ways to De-Stress While You’re Trying to Conceive