At the top of the news headlines this week are stories about former first lady, Michelle Obama, opening up about miscarriage and needing in vitro fertilization (IVF) to conceive her daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama.
In her memoir, “Becoming,” she discusses the personal struggles she faced when trying to start a family. In an interview with Good Morning America, she said, “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 them. We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we’re broken.”
The feelings Obama articulates are incredibly common among women who have suffered from infertility and/or miscarriage. Many women feel shame and guilt if they are not easily able to conceive a child. Because these topics are often taboo, many women don’t realize how common these issues are. Approximately 1 in 8 couples struggles with infertility and about 1 in 3 women will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime.
A 2015 study, published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, looked into public perceptions about miscarriage and found that 55 percent of people thought miscarriage was rare and believed that miscarriage occurred in 5 percent of pregnancies or less. Some of the participants even believed that miscarriage occurred in less than 0.1 percent of pregnancies. In reality, miscarriage or pregnancy loss occurs in at least 20 percent of all pregnancies.
By sharing her personal stories, Obama said that she hopes to help change the conversation around these topics. She said, “The biological clock is real. 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.”
Hopefully by sharing her personal stories and bringing these topics into the headlines, many women will realize that they are not alone.