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How celebrities are shifting public perception of infertility

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If you’re struggling with infertility, you’re not alone. Prominent women, from politicians to musicians, are shedding light on their own personal journeys and inspiring other women to come forth with their stories. Together, these women are shifting the perception of infertility as we know it. Michelle Obama, Lena Dunham, Halsey and Jessie J are just a few of the figures giving a recognizable face to this common struggle. The result? Widespread awareness, a strong sense of community and a better understanding of women’s reproductive health.

Removing the “taboo”

Historically, infertility has been a silent struggle. Women experiencing it haven’t felt empowered to open up due to the fear of judgment, embarrassment and shame. These negative feelings are often fueled by societal norms, such as the expectation to settle down and get married in your late 20s, to get pregnant in your early 30s or to have a certain number of children by the time you’ve reached your mid-30s. Pressures such as these, which are often perceived as the standard rites of passage, can send someone having trouble conceiving—or someone with a condition like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) who hasn’t met the right partner—into a dim, isolated state of mind. Women like Michelle Obama and Halsey are shattering the taboo nature of this topic by revealing the intimate details of their own experiences in the public eye.

“I think 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 how they don’t work,” Michelle Obama told Good Morning America, as she expanded on her own experiences with infertility. As a well-respected public figure, her willingness to be honest and a little bit vulnerable is giving people all over the world the courage to open up about their journeys as well. If you’re having trouble conceiving, you and your partner can take comfort in knowing you’re not the anomaly. Because of these brave women, the stigma surrounding infertility is being shattered and awareness is building rapidly.

Boosting awareness

When opening up about her infertility struggles at a recent concert, Jessie J told her fans, “I was told four years ago I won’t be able to have children … and I don't tell you guys for sympathy, because I'm one of millions of women and men that have gone through this and will go through this, and it can't become something that defines us.” These women are not holding back, and their stories are bringing understanding to the challenges with conception.

The facts:

  • 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility.
  • 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage.
  • 7.3 million American women have used infertility treatments and services, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you’re dealing with infertility, these are the realities you know all too well. Due to the previous lack of awareness, there’s a good chance you relied on private online forums and trusted support groups as your main sources of information and inspiration.

But today, thanks to the strength and fearlessness of public figures like Jessie J, the reality of this struggle isn’t limited to these private places. Infertility is now recognized on a wider scale, and the sense of support and community is expanding. It’s discussed in your favorite magazines, throughout your Instagram feed and on your go-to podcast. The facts and statistics are magnified like never before, which delves deeper into key topics such as the underlying conditions that cause infertility and the treatment options available to those having trouble conceiving on their own.

Increasing the opportunity for education

Celebrity testimonials not only spread awareness; they help forge a path to increased education. Underlying conditions that can lead to infertility like PCOS, treatment options such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and family planning procedures like egg freezing are just a few of the pertinent topics becoming more widely discussed and understood.

Additionally, there is an influx in conversation surrounding gestational carriers, which involves the insertion of a woman’s egg into another woman, who is in no way biologically related to the child she is carrying. These very public, very real testimonials are creating a groundswell of beneficial conversation and knowledge that can lead to more positive outcomes. If you’re not facing infertility firsthand, it’s important to note that with education comes empathy. Through this robust surge of awareness, friends and loved ones can gain a better understanding of how to remain sensitive and provide welcomed support.

There’s no escaping the fact that infertility can be a turbulent journey, but these women are proving that there is inspiration in community, importance in compassion and strength in education.

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