If you or someone you know has gone through IVF, you’re certainly not alone. Back in 2014, a "record number of women" were "using IVF to get pregnant," according to CNN. And the number of technology-assisted baby-making procedures being done hasn’t dropped off in the years since: Pew Research Center noted in 2018 that a "third of U.S. adults say they have used fertility treatments or know someone who has," and CNBC‘s Make It reported in 2019 that "about 7.3 million women of childbearing age in the U.S. have used fertility treatments to get pregnant."
So what is IVF? According to the Mayo Clinic, "In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complex series of procedures used to help with fertility or prevent genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child." To break it down, during the process, "mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs (embryos) are transferred to a uterus."
While that’s a medical explanation of IVF, it doesn’t touch on everything that’s involved — such as tests, medications, injections, bruising, bloating, cramping, constipation, ultrasounds, non-viable embryos, failed transfers, and even potential miscarriages. It also doesn’t address the mental and emotional struggle that those who go through IVF experience. And, unfortunately, at times they do so in silence out of the fear of judgment.
However, nowadays, some women have been willing to open up about going through IVF, including the following celebrities.
Kristen Wiig said going through IVF was ‘the most difficult time’ of her life
Kristen Wiig has made countless fans laugh thanks to her super funny performances in movies like 2011’s Bridesmaids and 2016’s Ghostbusters, not to mention her cheeky work on Saturday Night Live. However, in August 2020, she opened up about a more serious aspect of her personal life. During an interview with InStyle, the star spoke about going through three years of IVF and eventually surrogacy — which resulted in the birth of her twins that June — saying, "I wish I had talked about it more and asked for more help."
Wiig, who shares her little ones with her fiancé, Avi Rothman, admitted to InStyle, "Emotionally, spiritually, and medically, it was probably the most difficult time in my life. I wasn’t myself." She explained that there "are so many emotions" that someone experiences during IVF, adding that "you’re always waiting by the phone and getting test results." In her case, although there would "occasionally … be a good month," most of the time, "It was just bad news after bad news." That’s why there was "a lot of stress and heartache."
Despite that, Wiig is now willing to share what she went through. "As private as I am and as sacred as this all is, what helped me was reading about other women who went through it and talking to those who have gone through IVF and fertility stuff," Wiig noted, adding that it "can be the most isolating experience."
Michelle Obama found out that ‘the biological clock is real’
In 2018, Michelle Obama opened up to Good Morning America about the fact that she had a miscarriage around 20 years earlier, saying that she felt "lost and alone" at the time. "I felt like I failed because I didn’t know how common miscarriages were because we don’t talk about them. We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we’re broken," she told GMA‘s Robin Roberts. The former first lady continued by saying, "That’s one of the reasons why I think it’s important to talk to young mothers about the fact that miscarriages happen."
Obama explained that when she was in her mid-30s, she accepted the fact that "the biological clock is real," which means that by that age, "egg production is limited." At that point, she "realized [she and her husband, former President Barack Obama] had to do IVF."
Now, the mother of Sasha and Malia said that she "think[s] it’s the worst thing that we do to each other as women, not share the truth about our bodies and how they work." And that apparently includes both fertility struggles and treatments such as IVF. Indeed, CNN pointed out that "Obama’s disclosure that their children were the product of IVF is a welcome addition to this public conversation about infertility," due to the fact that it’s "inevitable that Obama’s star power will help demystify this medical process."
Amy Schumer doesn’t think she could do IVF again
Amy Schumer and her husband, Chris Fischer, are the proud parents of a son, Gene. While bringing the little guy into the world wasn’t easy due to the fact that Schumer suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, things didn’t get any easier when the couple tried to have a second child with the help of IVF.
Schumer used social media to keep her fans updated on her fertility journey in 2020, posting a look at her bruised body and offering honest updates. "They retrieved 35 eggs from me. Not bad for the old gal right? Then 26 fertilized! Whoah right?" she captioned an Instagram post in February of that year. She continued by explaining that doctors "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)." She noted: "So we feel lucky we got 1! But what a drop off right?"
However, in August 2020, Schumer revealed that she wasn’t able to endure the process any longer. "We did IVF and IVF was really tough on me," she told Sunday Today with Willie Geist (via People). "I decided that I can’t be pregnant ever again … I don’t think I could ever do IVF again." While Schumer said that she and Fischer have "thought about [using] a surrogate," that plan may have to wait, as she explained that they were "going to hold off" for the time being.
Kim Kardashian’s doctors wouldn’t let her continue with IVF
Anyone who follows celebrities is surely aware that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are the parents of North, Saint, Chicago (the child, not the city), and Psalm (again, the child, not a Bible verse). While Kardashian carried her first two children, North and Saint, she suffered from both preeclampsia and placenta accreta, according to E!. However, because the reality TV star had frozen her eggs, she explained in a video that she shared on Instagram in December 2019: "I was able to get pregnant through that with my son Saint, and then I had two embryos left."
However, following her tough pregnancies and deliveries, Kardashian revealed that she "had to have five different operations within a year and a half to fix the damage that all of that did from the inside." After that, medical professionals wouldn’t allow her to carry another child with the help of IVF. "I asked my doctors, ‘Can I do it one more time?’ And they were like, ‘We won’t even put an embryo in you. That would be like malpractice,’" she recalled.
In order to have Chicago and Psalm, Kardashian and West decided to have gestational surrogates carry the babies. "I am just so thankful for my beautiful kids. No matter how they came to me, they came to me," Kardashian said in her IG video. She added: "I would have gone through the same pain and back for the result of having my babies. It was all worth it."
Sofia Vergara ended up in a ‘custody battle’ over her embryos
While the point of going through fertility treatments is to end up with a baby (or maybe even babies), Sofia Vergara’s experience with IVF ended up involving her in a complicated court case. Although she’s famously married to Magic Mike actor Joe Manganiello these days, she was once engaged to a man named Nicholas Loeb. During Vergara and Loeb’s time together, the star — who has a son named Manolo Gonzalez Vergara from a precious relationship — went through IVF and froze her embryos, however, the couple didn’t end up having a child together. While that arguably should have been the end of the situation, especially since Vergara’s relationship with Loeb ended in 2014, the two were caught up in a legal battle as "Loeb sought to obtain full custody of the embryos and bring them to term," according to E!.
In 2018, Vergara initially lost the "custody battle," USA Today reported, but in 2019, the Modern Family actress not only had the amount of money she was supposed to pay Loeb to cover legal fees reduced, per E!, but a "judge [also] ruled that one cannot seek custody of an embryo under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, a law that was enacted to resolve custody disputes over children of parents residing in different states."
The embryos are currently "in cryogenic storage at [ART Reproductive Center’s] facilities," where the couple had originally "undergo[ne] the IVF process." In this case, maybe that’s where they should stay.
Tyra Banks’ IVF journey was ‘really, really difficult’
Tyra Banks is now the mom to a son, York Banks Asla, whom she shares with her former partner, Erik Asla, and who was born via surrogacy. However, she had a tough journey to parenthood. In 2018, the model told ET, "I remember just thinking, ‘Oh my god, I waited too long, like, why did I do this?’" That’s why she sought out IVF. However, the process wasn’t easy. "I was … doing the rounds and stuff and then I create the embryo and I get the phone call, ‘The embryo is not healthy … We can’t move forward,’" Banks continued, adding that it was "just really, really difficult."
It was also hard for those around Banks. Her mom told People, "She set up a nursery and in the bathroom, she put a tile in the floor that said, ‘Mommy Already Loves You.’ And then she found out the IVF had failed. It ripped my heart out."
Despite that, the former host of America’s Next Top Model told ET, "I think I’m lucky … I did it for about a year and a half of IVF and some women do it for years and years and years." She then opened up about why she can’t have more children, saying, "Unfortunately, I don’t have embryos frozen." While Banks said that she "probably could’ve kept going," she added that "it wasn’t healthy for [her] body." And besides, the mom-of-one noted that she happens to be "so happy" with how things ended up.
Courteney Cox had to be funny on Friends while enduring fertility struggles
Courteney Cox has one daughter, Coco Arquette, whom she shares with her ex-husband and fellow star, David Arquette. While Cox likely adores motherhood these days, her path to parenthood wasn’t straightforward. That may sound familiar to anyone who watched the performer on Friends and remembers that Cox’s character, Monica, also goes through struggles with fertility. Dateline NBC noted back in 2004 that the actress "didn’t expect how similar her real life, and her Friends TV-life, would turn out to be."
In reality, despite the fact that Cox said her family members "pop [children] out like it’s nobody’s business," and she assumed she wouldn’t have "a problem at all," the star experienced "several miscarriages," the outlet wrote, before "learn[ing] she had a rare antibody in her blood, that would attack the fetus." That meant that she could get pregnant, but that the pregnancies were never successful. As a result, Cox explained: "I decided to do in vitro and I did that twice." She revealed that she had to give herself daily shots of a blood thinner called heparin while also taking baby aspirin.
When Cox was asked how she managed to deliver comedic performances while also going through IVF, she admitted, "That was hard. Sometimes, like I remember one time I just had a miscarriage, and Rachel [who was played by Jennifer Aniston] was giving birth. It was like that same time. Oh my God, it was terrible having to be funny."
Elizabeth Banks hopes her ‘story helps people feel less alone’
Elizabeth Banks and her husband, Max Handelman, have two sons, Felix and Magnus, who were both born with the help of a gestational surrogate, according to Parents. Banks explained the reason behind the decision, taking to her website in 2011 to write that while she’s "been very fortunate in life both professionally and personally," she’s faced "one true hurdle … in life," noting that she has "a broken belly." The actress-director went on to explain that she spent "years … trying to get pregnant" and "exploring the range of fertility treatments." However, they were "all unsuccessful." That’s why her "journey led" to surrogacy.
Banks opened up to Net-A-Porter in 2019 about the fact that "women’s reproductive issues were things you would whisper about in small circles" in the past. But these days, things are different and people are more open about what they’ve been through, resulting in "#ShoutYourAbortion and IVF Facebook groups."
The Hunger Games star also admitted that she thinks she’s "still judged" because "people don’t understand" why she made the decisions that she has when it comes to her family. However, she seemed to shrug it off, telling Net-A-Porter, "I don’t feel I owe anybody any explanation." On top of that, Banks said, "If my story helps people feel less alone on their journey, then I’m grateful for that."
Céline Dion put her ‘faith in life,’ ‘the stars’, and IVF
Although "My Heart Will Go On" songstress Céline Dion and her (now-late) husband René Angélil had a son, René-Charles, who was born in 2001, according to Today, the couple were eager to have another child. However, they faced fertility issues. Dion even announced that she was pregnant at one point, but unfortunately, it turned out that the embryos that were transferred into the star "weren’t successful."
In 2009, Angélil told the Journal de Montreal (via Today), "We are living the reality of the majority of couples who have to use [IVF]. The process can be long and arduous." The singer’s husband and manager added that he "admire[d] all the women who go through such a tough process," pointing out that his own wife had "undergone numerous examinations, multiple hormone injections, and blood tests." Despite that, Angélil said that they weren’t getting "discouraged," as they "put [their] faith in life and in the stars."
Dion eventually went through six cycles of IVF, according to Hello!, and talked about it in 2010, saying, "You have to be patient. It’s difficult emotionally, but you don’t want that to affect you so much that suddenly you forget your husband, [you] forget yourself, [and you] forget your son." That October, Dion and Angélil’s IVF journey was successful, and they welcomed twin boys, Eddy and Nelson, into the world. Sadly, in 2016, Angélil passed away at the age of 73.
Gabrielle Union’s body was a ‘prisoner of trying to get pregnant’
"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," Gabrielle Union wrote in her 2017 memoir, We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories that are Funny, Complicated, and True (via Glamour). Union experienced almost 10 miscarriages and many doctors missed that she had Adenomyosis while undergoing IVF. But she explained that, despite that, she "could not let go of this idea of creating this life within" her.
However, the Bring It On and 10 Things I Hate About You actor’s husband, former NBA player Dwyane Wade, had serious concerns. "I’m watching her do things to her body and to herself that it’s getting to the point where it’s not healthy," he told Oprah Winfrey in 2018. "And as I always told her: ‘I want this baby just as much as you do, but I married you, and you are the most important thing to me.’ So it came to a point where … I started to feel a certain way about that, because I didn’t want something to happen to her."
Eventually, they used a surrogate to have their daughter, Kaavia James, who was born in November 2018, according to Glamour. And, FYI, in the years since she made her appearance into the world, she’s become an absolutely adorable, follow-worthy Instagram star.
Chrissy Teigen says IVF can make you ‘cuckoo pants’
Chrissy Teigen is now one of the most famous (and relatable) moms in Hollywood, however, she struggled to have a baby. "The big question was why this wasn’t working for us when I was young and he was healthy," she told Self in 2016. "I thought, people get pregnant by accident all the time! How does this happen?"
When the former Lip Sync Battle co-host and her husband, singer John Legend, went through IVF, she said, "Emotionally, it could be really hard. When you have these high-highs and low-lows." Frankly, she admitted it can make you "cuckoo pants." The experience wasn’t made easier by the paparazzi, who took photos of the star while she was doing a photoshoot on a beach and had a bruised stomach from the procedures. She recalled that "it sucked" that she couldn’t reveal the reason behind the physical state she was in.
While going through multiple rounds of IVF, Teigen tried to manage the stress with acupuncture and "tapped into her spiritual side" by wearing "an amulet necklace blessed in a temple in Korat, Thailand, that her sister gave her," according to Self. She also admitted: "You don’t want to get your hopes up, but of course, you do."
Fortunately, Teigen’s hopes weren’t in vain, and the couple was able to opt to have a daughter, Luna, first in 2016, before having a son, Miles, two years later. In August 2020, Teigen and Legend revealed that they were expecting baby number three.