The rise of the celebrity IVF story

There is rarely a week that goes by without a celebrity IVF story in our social media feeds. Of course, you’re more likely to see them if you’re following fertility-related topics. However, the recent tell-all interview from Jennifer Aniston about her fertility struggles lit up the headlines even in the mainstream press. From wild speculation asking ‘did Meghan Markle have IVF’ to the recent mum-shaming of Rebel Wilson when she was seen partying days after the birth of her child via a surrogate, it seems there is an insatiable appetite for celebrity fertility news. But how helpful are these stories to someone actually going through IVF?

The true story behind celebrity babies

One particularly popular story is that of celebrities having children over the age of 40. Madonna, Nicole Kidman and Naomi Campbell are just some of the A listers you can find on the many internet lists of ‘celebrities who had their children after 40’. On the one hand, they can be inspirational stories for someone also considering having children later in life. However, a study by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine found that out of 240 interviews with stars over 35 years old, only two mentioned having fertility treatment. The result is that some women are left with unrealistic expectations of how successful they may be in having a child of their own.

Access Fertility’s Medical Director, Professor Scott Nelson, observes this in his work at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde where he supports fertility patients daily:

“While couples may wish to keep their personal circumstances private we know that the chances of achieving the desired family size naturally dramatically falls with increasing age. The good news is that IVF in all its forms can help overcome this whether it be one, two or three children you prefer”

Professor Scott Nelson, Medical Director at Access Fertility
celebrity ivf stories magazines

While these celebrities have no obligation to reveal how they conceived their children, it is up to fertility clinics to be honest and up front about success rates. Understanding how success rates are affected by factors like age can really help someone embarking on IVF.

Scott adds:

“IVF success rates decline at ~0.3% per month from approximately 34 if you are using your own eggs, so understanding the age related decline in success rates and what your chances are per cycle are critical when you start to think about your fertility journey and how many cycles you may require.”

Learn more about IVF success rates in this article.

Representation of IVF in celebrity culture

Not all celebrity IVF stories are hailing the success of someone having a baby. Increasingly, well-known names are sharing their hardship of failed IVF cycles and fertility troubles. Most recently, Kourtney Kardashian shared a very emotional update on television that she was taking a break from her “super hard” IVF journey. Then there was Jennifer Aniston’s revelation that, contrary to assumptions by many a tabloid journalist in the 00s that she ‘selfishly’ didn’t want children, she had actually tried IVF, unsuccessfully. There seems to be a trend for more open sharing of what is a very personal experience to the huge audiences that these celebrities have.

The response to these outpourings of emotion have broadly been positive. “I felt seen”, one viewer reported to the Huffington Post. Others weighed in, commenting that these celebrities are helping overcome general misconceptions that IVF is always successful, instead showing a more honest reality. That in itself is something we should celebrate. Any opportunity for someone to feel less alone, that their experience is understood, is a positive step.

While we may not have celebrity IVF stories here at Access Fertility, we do have a wealth of incredible experiences shared by our patients, from those who were successful against the odds, to others whose treatment sadly didn’t work out and are using their refund for plan B. We are glad to share their stories to inspire, inform and comfort anyone also on their fertility journey. Check out our patient videos and our blog to learn more.

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