44 year-old actress, Gabrielle Union has recently opened up about her fertility struggles. As a woman who once thought she never wanted kids, she now finds herself longing to conceive and in the midst of a painful journey to become a mother.
Years of failed IVF treatments and multiple miscarriages is heartbreaking, but it doesn’t just have to be a sad story. It can be one that inspires each of us to act. If Gabrielle can be courageous enough to share her story, then it’s our duty to listen and try to understand our own fertility.
I’m the Egg Whisperer and have made it my life’s mission to empower more women with fertility knowledge. Here’s what I want you to know from Gabrielle’s story…
Fertility isn’t skin deep.
Gabrielle is beautiful both on the inside and out. I’ve seen interviews with her, and I have always said she’s someone I admire. She’s super healthy and looks no older than 30. She clearly takes care of herself. Unfortunately, self-care doesn’t guarantee fertility. That’s the most frustrating part of being a fertility patient. Your nutrition may be impeccable, your fitness level peak, and stress levels low, but it doesn’t guarantee you will have an easy time getting pregnant.
What you can do is to get your egg levels checked. Understand the baseline of what you’re working from, and set a plan accordingly.
Money can’t buy fertility.
I suspect Gabrielle and her NBA star husband, Dwayne Wade, have the financial means to access top medical care in their journey to conception, but they have been unsuccessful. When it comes to human biology and fertility, power, celebrity and money do not matter. It’s confusing for patients because we’re always told that “hard work pays off.” All the money and IVF cycles in the world may not help you get pregnant.
If you anticipate delaying child-bearing for any reason, freezing your eggs early is the best action to take. You can’t put Botox in your ovaries, but you can definitely save your younger eggs for when you are older and ready to start a family.
Wine may improve with age, but fertility does NOT.
There may be a societal movement towards things getting better with age, or hardly aging at all. It seems 40 is the new 20 when it comes to pregnancy, but that is NOT the case for fertility. Age is the enemy of fertility. It’s that simple. There have been no scientific discoveries to help women generate eggs after we run out. The best thing you can do is save them, but know that in doing so, getting pregnant is just half the battle.
Many women over 40 can’t have a live birth with their own eggs, especially over the age of 42. If you know me, I’m the eternal fertility cheerleader and not quick to be a naysayer. I have successfully helped women conceive despite FSH levels over 80, and have even enabled women over the age of 49 to conceive with their own eggs. However, the rates of live birth are less than 2 percent for women over 44 who are trying to use their own eggs. I share this not to be a downer, but to help inject a dose of reality so you can set expectations accordingly for your own family planning.
Miscarriages don’t have to be a mystery.
Miscarriage is common, but it doesn’t mean you have to experience several to wonder what’s happening with your body. Seeing a reproductive endocrinologist will help you understand the potential causes of miscarriage. There are tests we can do to help you heal through knowledge and take action. For some, that action may include finding a hero like a gestational carrier to carry a pregnancy for you.
If you’ve experienced miscarriage, one of my favorite books to aide in healing is “Not Broken: An Approachable Guide to Miscarriage and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss” by Dr. Lora Shahine. You can buy her book on Amazon.
Have your support system. Find trusted individuals in your life that you can share with. Nobody heals alone. We get through difficult times by vulnerably sharing with others.
Gabrielle knows this, and she’s been brave in publishing a book that’s has allowed her to go beyond her immediate circle for support. She’s in turn made many women feel they are not alone in their fertility struggles. It’s so important to find your team, be it online or in-person. Wherever you are on your path to conception, there is someone right alongside of you. I promise you that!
Here are some options for fertility support:
– Connect online via Fertility Friend
– In person support groups like Resolve
– Consider acupuncture. I recommend checking out “Planting the Seeds of Pregnancy: Your Guide to Improving Egg Quality and Fertility Potential Using Eastern Wisdom and Western Science”.
Even if today you find yourself like Gabrielle once did, and are not sure that you want kids. Feelings can change. If they do, then I want you to have the best chance of conceiving!
#GetAheadOfInfertility and schedule an egg awareness panel and egg whisperer consult.