For too long, fertility struggles have been a stigmatized issue, a conversation most couples trying to conceive did not feel comfortable having in public. Sadly, because there was so little dialogue about these issues, many women experiencing fertility struggles have had to live with a feeling of intense isolation that only compounded the pain of not being able to conceive.
As of late, well-known figures who have experienced these struggles have opened up about their experiences. From Mark Zuckerberg to Chrissy Teigen to Tyra Banks, public figures who have experienced fertility struggles have started a game-changing dialogue about their experiences.
Recently, Gabrielle Union has added her voice to the conversation. This week, Union sat down with Hoda Kotb on TODAY to talk about all the things going on in the actress’ life — her show Being Mary Jane, her marriage to NBA player Dwayne Wade, that piece BuzzFeed wrote where they took pictures of Union at 26 and 42, and lined the pictures up to prove that Gabrielle Union is basically Dorian Gray and does not age.
And then the conversation took a turn for the serious.
“You know what I love? I love a lot of things about you,” Hoda told Gabrielle. “But one of the things you did was you shared something about you that was painful — and some women probably saw that and nodded their heads — you talked about how IVF was a struggle for you, you talked about trying to have biological children, it was, you know, it wasn’t something that was working out.”
Hoda was referring to an interview Union did with Redbook last month, in which Union talked about the difficulties of juggling a career with family planning.
“As much as there are strides being made — you get pregnant, your career takes a hit,” Union told Redbook.
Union also opened up in the magazine interview about her own experience with fertility struggles.
“So far, it has not happened for us. A lot of my friends deal with this. There’s a certain amount of shame that is placed on women who have perhaps chosen a career over starting a family younger. The penance for being a career woman is barrenness. You feel like you’re wearing a scarlet letter.”
Once the topic was addressed on TODAY, Union ran with it.
“…Most of my friends who have done IVF aren’t women in their 40s, [they’re] women in their 20’s and 30’s…fertility is an issue, period. And having a career is not the price you pay for any ill. I think TV shows and film make the “frigid, single-focused career woman” [a trope], that her career is the source of all the problems in her life. Can’t find a man? It’s the career. Marriage falls apart? It’s the career. Kid gets an F in algebra? It’s the career. And that’s just not the case. Just [want] to show my support, just to show that it gets better with age, and having a career is an amazing thing if you choose to have one, and if you happen to have had issues with fertility as you’ve gotten older, and you have a career, all is not lost. There’s so much hope and there are so many options, and you’re not alone.”
We’re so glad Union is using her platform to speak about these issues that are so personal for her and affect the lives of so many women. She’s using her power to break through the stigma and the silence, and we applaud the actress for doing her part to open up a dialogue and help start this conversation.
(Image via DFree/Shutterstock.)