What the Yuck: Are celebs more fertile than the rest of us?
Kelly Preston became pregnant at 47, although she hasn't said whether or not she used IVF.
July 15th, 2011
10:06 AM ET

What the Yuck: Are celebs more fertile than the rest of us?

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Are celebs more fertile than the rest of us? How come so many are able to have babies in their mid- and late 40s?

You've stumbled onto one of Hollywood's "Dirty Little Secrets": donor eggs and in vitro fertilization (IVF). While being famous can get you far in life, it doesn't extend the warranty on your ovaries. It just gives that A-lister greater access to cutting-edge fertility treatments and doctors that the rest of us may not know about or be able to afford.

Starting in our late 20s and early 30s, the chances of conceiving naturally begin to go down (we have fewer and fewer eggs and their quality starts to decline). Then after age 35, the number of viable eggs falls off even more. So it's very difficult for any woman, celebrity or not, to conceive on her own after about age 40—at least with her own eggs.

And that's where IVF comes in. With IVF, an egg (often a donor egg if the mom is 40-plus) is fertilized outside the body and then transferred to the would-be mom's uterus. IVF can be very expensive and time-consuming, and it often requires multiple treatments.

In a perfect world, older Hollywood moms would talk openly about the time, money, and—oh yeah—younger woman's eggs it took to get pregnant. But big stars naturally want to keep these private reproductive choices under wraps. It's just too bad the rest of us end up getting the false idea that 40 is the new 20 when it comes to your reproductive system.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Poodles

    I'll get the coat hanger.

    July 15, 2011 at 21:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mark

      I second that.

      July 16, 2011 at 11:08 | Report abuse |
  2. stupidmotherfudger

    they have many thousands to give fertility specialists durr. durr.

    July 15, 2011 at 23:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Wow

    People... actually care about this kind of thing? I'm sort of shocked.

    July 16, 2011 at 01:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jfree

      Uh, yeah. Babies are adorable. Some people pay thousands of dollars to get pregnant. Other people spend thousands of dollars to adopt other people's babies. As women put off child bearing until they are "ready" financially, careerwise, etc they may find their bodies are past the expiration date. 40 is NOT 20 reproductively

      July 16, 2011 at 03:18 | Report abuse |
  4. Parents Via Egg Donation

    Women have been having children via egg donation since the early 80's. Why it's considered a dirty little secret has always been perplexing. I think it's great that people are finally talking about it, and taking the stigma out of it. It's just another way to create a family. To learn more about egg donation: http://www.pved.org

    July 16, 2011 at 02:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Jim

    Please tell me someone didnt really ask that question. That makes me sad.

    July 16, 2011 at 10:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. mark

    Women are insane. Why anyone – rich/famous or not – would go the extent of incorporating non-natural means to have a baby in the their 40s is beyond me. They are driven purely by chemical/emotional imbalances in their brains and bodies that lead them to believe they "need" another child. If your body can't do it naturally then you've got no business doing it. Period. You weren't meant to have another one. Get over it. These deranged women need to stop populating the world with artificially created offspring incubated in their aging, used up wombs. They should all be in psychotherapy. There's more to living than babies ladies and, remember, it's not just "having a baby". You're gonna have to RAISE A CHILD through your 40s and 50s. Babies grow up, remember? Psychos.

    July 16, 2011 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cami

      Gee whiz Mark, why so angry about something so innocuous? I have a lot less problem with a mature woman of means having a child in her 40s than I do with young, unmarried idiots in their teens and 20s using their wombs as never-ending baby factories and having society pick up the tab. Any woman (and her husband, let's not forget the men in this equation) who can afford to have a child by IVF can also afford to support and educate that child, and let's face it, those few children aren't the ones contributing to overpopulation.

      July 16, 2011 at 12:01 | Report abuse |
    • Cathy W

      My grandfather had a baby with his (much) younger wife, when he was 70 years old. My mother was pretty disapproving, because as she pointed out, my grandfather wouldn't be around to help raise that child. Well, guess what? He lived to age 96, and saw his youngest through college and into adulthood. My parents were 40 and 46 when my youngest sibling was born, and they are both still alive and kicking and he's an adult now. Your point about being around to RAISE the kids... well, there are no guarantees in life, no matter whether you are 25, 35, or 45 when you have a baby. Just because you are young, doesn't mean you can or will be around for your children.

      July 17, 2011 at 20:36 | Report abuse |
    • kaylee

      Are you a medical professional trained in psychiatry? No? Then you don't get to diagnose the mental state of anyone. Especially not someone you've never met.

      It is you who needs to get over yourself. Your ignorance is showing.

      July 18, 2011 at 18:11 | Report abuse |
    • sunnysue

      I hope you had a vasectomy when you had your lobotomy, Mark. Really, I do.

      July 18, 2011 at 23:16 | Report abuse |
  7. Wow

    I'm a woman, but Mark, I'm with you on this one. Frankly, I think it's creepy people care if celebrities are having kids in their fifties or something. It's /their/ personal life, the rest of us don't need to know... It seems a bit stalker-esque, paying THAT much attention to it.

    July 16, 2011 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Seriuosly

    It's ridiculous and callous that there are people responding to this saying women in their 40's are "deranged" for wanting to have a child. Because someone has passed their fertility peak doesn't make the natural, human desire to have children any less intense. Evolution has a long way to go to adjust to women who want to have a career first or wait for the right partner. Also, some women who use egg donors are in their 20's or early 30's due to genetic predispositions. Regardless of how these children come into the world, they're wanted and loved – which is more than I can say for a lot of teens getting pregnant. I think it's more "deranged" or rather disheartening to write such insensitive comments. I hope any women of egg donor children realize that "Wow" and "Mark's" comments belong on a whole other planet and don't deserve a moment of wasted thought.

    July 16, 2011 at 17:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Martha

    Not all 40 year old women require intervention. I started trying for my second child at 40 and became pregnant almost immediately, in fact I got back my positive pregnancy result on my 41st birthday. I think the difficulties and problems are slightly exaggerated, I'm living in Sweden at the moment and women having children in their 40s is actually considered quite commonplace.

    July 17, 2011 at 03:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cathy W

      Yeah, my mother had no trouble getting pregnant at age 39 (age 40 when my youngest sibling was born).

      July 17, 2011 at 20:39 | Report abuse |
    • Yes But...

      Most women who conceive naturally after 40 are having a subsequent child. It's hard to conceive a first after 40. Not unheard of, but hard...

      July 20, 2011 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
  10. Jess

    I would love to see a study on children's psychological well being born to these older moms who spent a lot of energy, money and time to have these kids. Will there be unreasonalbe expections for these kids to be perfect in the future or some kind of fulfillment? Although I agree that teenagers raising children is not a good thing either for well being but kids born to older women as some kind of fullfillment may not be well balanced. A planned child to parents that can naturally conceive is an ideal situation from a future psychological perspective. These women are just fullfilling a selfish need and probably not thinking of the child just themselves.

    July 18, 2011 at 09:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kaylee

      You're confusing conception with parenting. There's a HUGE difference.

      July 18, 2011 at 18:19 | Report abuse |
  11. Bri

    I would like to clarify that many women who need the help of ART to reproduce are not 40. I am 30 and infertile. While I agree that how someone chooses to make there family is no one's business I understand the frustration of infertile woman when it comes to celebrities who out and out lie about it. It's just disappointing when you see a celebrity who clearly had fertility treatments not use the forum allowed to them to make people more aware that for many infertility is a disease. I for one will just be hoping today that Mark is unable to reproduce.

    July 18, 2011 at 17:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. kaylee

    Not everyone who uses assisted reproduction technology is in their 40s. We're in our 30s and using it because we were diagnosed with "unexplained infertility". It's the same medical diagnosis that 30% of the 1 in 6 couples in the United States who are infertile receive. Infertility means "unable to conceive a child after 1 year of trying". It doesn't mean selfish. It's a medical diagnosis. My spouse and I want to at least try to have children while we're young enough to do so. But it's been two years of trying with no luck. We can't talk about this with anyone because of the shame in having problems in a world filled with "oops!" babies. And yet every single month we are reminded of our failure. So we're using medical technology to help us treat our medical problem. Should we succeed we have all the same hopes and dreams every other prospective parent has for their child. It's just that it's taking us far longer, far more work, and far more money to get to that point.

    I can't begrudge a celebrity that wants to keep all of this private. Particularly given the misguided, uninformed, ignorant comments here from people who have no freaking clue how soul crushing the entire experience is. Imagine receiving these comments from even more people around the world. No thanks!

    July 18, 2011 at 18:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. sunnysue

    I needed no help in getting pregnant at age 44 and 48. None. It is possible!

    July 18, 2011 at 22:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. fernace

    I'm a retired nanny & most of the families I worked for in the decade of the early90's-early2000's, were busy establishing their careers & financial security, while in their late 20's to mid 30's. Therefore most moms were 35-38 for the 1st child & mid way in their40's for their last. Many American families have lived this reality in the last 15-20 years! Most of the women did not need any intervention to get pregnant, which many physicians of the era, explained as a natural occurence due to healthier lifestyles, which also helps us to live longer. The fertility craze of Hollywood is not a secret, dirty or otherwise, it's a well established fact. These are people with alot of $$$, a demanding career & a small window of opportunity to schedule a pregnancy. Also many celebrities are impatient, being used to a very fast pace & instant gratification. These are some of the other reasons, besides difficulty to concieve, that may account for the uber-use of IVF in Hollywood!!

    July 18, 2011 at 23:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Kay

    Celebrities have the money to have 20 IVFs if they need to, or to travel around the world to the best fertility specialists. It does not matter to them if they do not have infertility insurance coverage. Although they do not owe anyone an explanation, it would be nice if they would explain how hard and how expensive it was to achieve their baby in their late 40s.

    July 19, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Alfuso

    If a woman of means and maturity wants to go though all this, fine. I can't understand the DESIRE to do so. The obsession with having a baby. Then these celebs flaunt their bump like they've done something special. Well, pit vipers get pregnant, too.

    I prefer they adopt. There are so many children – IN THIS COUNTRY – languishing.

    July 26, 2011 at 00:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. karen

    Alfuso, you mention adoption of children in this country. When a woman in her 40's is looking to have a child, being placed on extensive waiting lists to adopt another person's child is not an option. My sister was on a list 7 years before "her turn." People who say there are all these children who are languishing have no clue as to what they are talking about. There are thousands upon thousands of people wanting to adopt, but with the problems that exist with the system makes it a less attracttive solution than IVF. Additional problems include the fact that the mother can change her mind the day you are about to be united with the child, the mother can change her mind and take back "your" child up to 3 years later, adoption records including your personal information can be made available to others. If you adopt an older child, hereditary phychiatric problems are not released creating a potential volitile situation. After watching my sister go through hell trying to adopt (she has adopted 2 over a 20 year period – yes, it took 20 years to successfully adopt 2 chikldren) I decided I would never go that route. IVF is the surest method of the two in that if you are successful and a child is placed in your arms, that child is yours. period.

    August 1, 2011 at 11:12 | Report abuse | Reply
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