Infertility doesn’t discriminate, so it’s encouraging to see celebrities open up and be candid about how they became pregnant in their late 30s and 40s when, as we know, the chances of conceiving naturally decrease with every year that passes.
Infertility is a very personal thing so keeping it a secret is a choice we must respect. But when celebrities spread the word it brings the issue out into the mainstream, and it’s something we can relate to and empathise with.
TV personality Julia Bradbury gave birth to twins last year after five rounds of IVF. Diagnosed with womb disease in her thirties, the ex-Countryfile presenter went public about her IVF treatment to inspire older women. On ITV’s This Morning, she said: “It’s a real struggle and I think there is still a bit of stigma attached to talking about IVF or miscarriages and the trauma that people go through. Of course I can’t wave a magic wand and say it’s going to work, but I can tell them what I went through.”
Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson pulls no punches when she describes her attempts to have a second child using IVF: “I would have desperately liked to have had more children and it’s been a great agony for me,” said Miss Thompson, who suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome. Talking to the Daily Mail, she added: “There’s been an awful lot of grief to get through… but there are thousands and thousands of women like me who can’t have children.” Her first child was conceived thanks to IVF.
Model and businesswoman Elle Macpherson has faced criticism because she is ‘desperate’ for a baby at the age of 51. The mother of two froze her eggs 20 years ago and has found a surrogate. She also found support from an unlikely source – the former Shameless actress Tina Malone. Tina gave birth to an IVF baby daughter at the age of 50 and said she is less selfish the second time around. She told the Liverpool Echo: “I had my first daughter at 18. I’m 52 now with a beautiful 15-month-old running round. And I am a far better mum now.”
Writer, comic and actress Dawn French doesn’t flinch when it comes to talking about IVF, she talks about it in her first solo show 30 Million Minutes, now on world tour. She went through several unsuccessful rounds of IVF in the 1980s to get pregnant with ex-husband Lenny Henry. Dawn has recently urged health chiefs in Britain to provide unlimited IVF treatment for childless couples.
Perhaps Britain’s most high profile parents of IVF children are couple Elton John and David Furnish, who have two young sons from a surrogate mother. They were involved in a nasty row with Dolce and Gabbana last year over comments that IVF babies were ‘synthetic’. The Italian designers have since apologised.