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Each year, about 4 million babies are born in the US to parents who use in vitro fertilization. The process involves extracting eggs to be fertilized by sperm in a laboratory, then reimplanting them in the womb as embryos. Cycles take weeks and typically cost thousands of dollars, and there’s never any guarantee that the end result will be a healthy baby.
But for many parents struggling with infertility, IVF is more than worth the risk, despite the painful hormone injections, the emotional roller-coaster ride, and the potentially massive financial investment.
Read on to see what these 10 famous women had to say about the process, and how it turned out for each of them.
Comedian Amy Schumer has been open about her struggle to conceive a second child. After the birth of her son, Gene, in 2019, Schumer turned to IVF in hopes of giving him a sibling. On Instagram, she shared how grueling the process was.
‘”So IVF went like this for us. They retrieved 35 eggs from me. Not bad for the old gal right? Then 26 fertilized! Whoah right? For all of those, we got one normal embryo from that and two low level mosaic (mosaic means there are some abnormal cells but can still lead to a healthy baby) So we feel lucky we got 1! But what a drop off right?” she wrote.
Schumer said that it was important to her to be as transparent as possible about the IVF process, knowing how many other prospective parents are on their own painful journeys with it.
“I just wanted to share and send love and strength to all of the warrior women who go through this process,” she said.
Supermodel Tyra Banks went through a year of unsuccessful IVF attempts before ultimately deciding to use a surrogate. Banks and her mother, Carolyn London, shared details of that painful year in an interview with People.
“It hurt me so much to watch her struggle through that. She set up a nursery and in the bathroom, she put a tile on the floor that said, ‘Mommy Already Loves You.’ And then she found out the IVF had failed. It ripped my heart out,” London told the magazine.
In 2016, Banks and her boyfriend, Erik Asla, welcomed baby boy York Banks Asla.
After a difficult pregnancy with North, who was born in 2013, Kim Kardashian needed not only IVF treatments to have her second child but also multiple surgeries to repair damage to her uterus. She welcomed son Saint in 2015, but doctors told her they wouldn’t attempt IVF again when Kardashian and Kanye West wanted to expand their family further.
“I asked my doctors, ‘Can I do it one more time?'” Kardashian said in a 2019 Instagram video. “And they were like, ‘We won’t even put an embryo in you — that would be malpractice.'”
With the help of surrogates, Kardashian welcomed daughter Chicago in 2018 and son Psalm in 2019. “I’m so thankful for my beautiful kids, no matter how they came to me — they came to me,” Kardashian said in a video on the Skims Instagram account.
The youngest Kardashian sister has documented her IVF attempts on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” Khloé Kardashian set out to have a second child with Tristan Thompson, the father of her daughter, True, but in an episode of the show that aired in early 2021, she mentioned a setback: None of the eggs she had frozen in hopes of having another baby someday had survived the unfreezing process.
She commiserated with a fan on Twitter around the time the episodes aired, saying, “It’s so tough emotionally.” She added that it also wasn’t fun physically.
Former first lady Michelle Obama wrote about IVF in “Becoming,” her 2018 memoir.
Like so many others who have turned to IVF, Obama said she’d first suffered the heartbreak of a miscarriage. She shared how lonely the process was with a husband who was already deeply entrenched in his political career — “leaving me largely on my own to manipulate my reproductive system into peak efficiency,” she wrote. That included countless injections, ultrasounds, and blood draws to help the couple welcome daughters Malia and Sasha.
Former “Saturday Night Live” star Kristen Wiig said she spent three years of her life in an “IVF haze.”
“Emotionally, spiritually, and medically, it was probably the most difficult time in my life,” Wiig said in an interview with InStyle.
After devoting so much time and energy to IVF, Wiig eventually went with a surrogate to welcome twins in 2020.
Wiig kept her “bittersweet” journey largely under wraps, but she decided to open up about it to help other people with the same feelings of shame and inadequacy that she fought to overcome. “It’s like this underground community that’s talked about but not talked about,” she told the magazine.
Chef and talk-show host Katie Lee took to Instagram in 2019 with a powerful reminder of why it’s absolutely never OK to ask a woman if she’s pregnant or when she’s going to have kids.
Lee shared that the painful, intrusive questions she constantly faced were even more devastating because she was privately undergoing IVF.
“Not only is IVF physically exhausting, but the emotional toll is also unparalleled. We were filled with hope and excitement only to be crushed,” she wrote, after explaining that she and her husband did not get any healthy embryos out of the process.
Less than a year after that post, Lee shared an update: She was pregnant. In September 2020, she delivered a baby girl.
Gabrielle Union’s road to welcoming baby Kaavia was long and hard. She described exactly what it was like in her 2017 memoir, “We’re Going to Need More Wine.”
“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,” she wrote. Union added that she suffered multiple miscarriages.
She and her husband, Dwyane Wade, ultimately went with a surrogate.
Actress Aisha Tyler decided to stop pursuing IVF after two years of treatments.
“There are all these shots, they make your body crazy, they make you emotional, they hurt,” she told Parents magazine. “I was getting shots every day. My husband hated giving me the shots. He probably cried more than I did.”
Tyler and her husband pursued IVF for two years before learning it would likely never work. Ultimately, Tyler said it was the right decision: “It was better to not go through that torture.”
Brooke Shields’ first round of IVF led to a positive pregnancy, but she had a miscarriage. She and her husband, Chris Henchy, then went through many more rounds of IVF without any success.
“I was about ready to call it quits. I was growing weary of the anticipation and the pressure, and Chris said he wasn’t sure he could handle seeing me rip off another estrogen patch in frustration,” Shields told Fertility Today. She added, “At wit’s end, we decided to try one more time” — and that final shot was successful.
The couple welcomed daughter Rowan in 2003.