There are over 8 million children that have been born via IVF around the globe, and we now know that Michelle Obama’s two daughters, Malia and Sasha, are two of them.
During an interview with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America” to discuss her new memoir, “Becoming,” Michelle shared her struggles 20 years ago when trying to have a family:
“I felt lost and alone and I felt like I failed. I didn’t know how common miscarriages were because we don’t talk about it. We sit in our own pain. The biological clock is real because egg production is limited, and I realized that as I was 34 and 35, we had to do IVF. I think it’s the worst thing we do to each other as women, not share the truth about our bodies and how they work and how they don’t work.”
We couldn’t agree more. Miscarriage and infertility are extremely common and we champion those who are courageous enough to share their personal experiences. Let’s be honest - infertility is a hard topic to open up about with others, particularly during treatment. Many of our patients share that they feel shame, isolation and sadness, just as Michelle did.
With her global popularity and heartfelt honesty, Michelle shined a light on infertility in a way that no one else could. She didn’t have to share her experiences, but she did in hopes of giving hope and insight to people everywhere.
We asked our physician team to share their thoughts on Michelle’s IVF revelations:
"This is yet another example of what an exceptional role model Michelle Obama is for women. She was brave enough to share her story. We know that over the course of a lifetime, one in two women will experience a miscarriage, yet many suffer alone as they feel “embarrassed”. Women need other women to share and bond with during an infertility journey. Women brave enough to share their truth empower others to feel comfortable sharing their own experiences.
We should not feel embarrassed about infertility or miscarriage. Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples and is more prevalent than breast cancer. Infertility holds a “shame” than many illnesses do not; we need to remove that shame so that patients seek treatments as they can be effective.
Thank you Michelle for being such an incredible voice for women everywhere!"
-Dr. Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron, Reproductive Endocrinologist
“As an African American woman and mental health professional in the field of infertility and reproductive medicine, I sincerely applaud Michelle Obama for her bravery and humility in sharing her testimony and giving a voice to the emotional struggles surrounding infertility. I am hopeful that her courage will resonate and serve to inspire women, including women of color, for whom this is an even less talked about struggle, to seek and provide support to other women who may also be facing similar challenges.”
-Dr. Tiffany Edwards, licensed clinical psychologist
"The revelation of Michele’s miscarriage, infertility and IVF treatment should be an inspiration to other African-American women who are often shamed by their infertility and keep it to themselves, often avoiding diagnosis and treatment. We support FFCG, Fertility For Colored Girls, a support group that encourages black women to discuss their fertility situations and aids in providing medical and emotional support, including the funding of grants."
-Dr. Edward Marut, Reproductive Endocrinologist
While many of our patients are open to receiving support, we’ve also had many patients tell us afterward that they wished they had asked for the support they needed on their journey.
If you aren’t sure where to start, check out our fertility education classes, the Fertility Empowerment Series, where we offer a free Monthly Infertility Support Group, Support Group for Single Women, and nearly 100 free events per year. If you would feel more comfortable speaking one-on-one with a trained professional, we encourage you to talk to Dr. Tiffany Edwards, Dr. Marie Davidson or Susan Rizzato, our behavior health specialists. To hear from others who have been in your shoes, visit our patient story gallery where women share their infertility experiences - in their own words.
Please know there are people who want to help you on this journey. You are not alone.
Michelle Obama, the team at Fertility Centers of Illinois commends your bravery! Thank you for sharing your truth.