health

Fertility services leave most older women broke AND broken-hearted.

Every time an older celebrity falls pregnant, older women around the world think they can too.

Halle Berry was 46.

Michelle Bridges was 44.

Nicole Kidman was 43.

Sonia Kruger was 48.

Eva Mendes was 41.

Alyssa Milano fell pregnant at 41.

Julianne Moore was 41.

Mary Coustas, 49.

Salma Hayek was 48.

Tina Fey was 44.

Gwen Stefani was 45.

Amanda Peet was 43.

Marcia Cross was 53.

Janet Jackson is pregnant at 49. She announced it recently to explain why she’s had to cancel her upcoming world tour.

Mariah Carey was 45.

Michelle Bridges fell pregnant at 44. Son Axel is now five-months-old. Image via Instagram @mishbridges

Some fess up to having had fertility treatment and some don't. Maybe some haven't needed fertility treatment but the reality is most have. Sonia Kruger, bless her, went out of her way to explain that she needed an egg donation in order to get pregnant at 48, balking at the description of her pregnancy as a "miracle".

“It’s important to me to not mislead women out there as if it was some kind of miracle baby. We tried IVF and it wasn’t successful. The doctors were very clear with me too, that for women over the age of 45, which was the age we attempted IVF, the success rate is zero,” she said in 2012.

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“It’s science, not a miracle… Unfortunately, that (headline in Women's Weekly magazine) is really misleading to women.”

Sonia has always been refreshingly honest and open, and she wants to make sure the record is straight on IVF so that she can use her experience to help couples understand the process.

“I hate disappointing people. Coming from that side of the fence of being the person asking the questions I also want to be as honest and open as possible unless I feel there’s some danger in doing that.”

If only all celebrities were that open.

Sonia Kruger fell pregnant at 48 using an egg donor. Daughter Maggie is now one. Image: Sonia Kruger Instagram

Michelle Bridges attributed her late pregnancy to her healthy lifestyle. She said she did feel "lucky" to fall pregnant at 44 however also thinks good diet and exercise played a part.

“But I also feel all of my years and all of Steve’s years of looking after ourselves and taking care of our health and our bodies, it just goes to show. For someone my age, for it to happen so quickly, it’s obviously got to do with good health,” she said.

These comments were slammed by Tracey Spicer who felt the comments were "a bit irresponsible".

“[The comment is] so wrong and so judgemental, it makes women feel worse when they’re trying to fall pregnant. I’ve got nothing against Michelle, and I’m all about supporting all women, but it’s a bit wrong,” the 47-year-old Sky News anchor said.

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"Having fertility issues is incredibly difficult and it takes over your life. We don’t talk about it enough, that’s why I talk about it at any given opportunity. I felt like I wanted to abduct children from prams in the street, you really become obsessed with it and, you know, there is a lot of judgement around fertility issues.”

Now there's an entire industry that feeds of the infertility of older women, offering miracle treatments when there is often very little chance of success, particularly when our views on fertility treatment options are still so archaic.

Egg donations, surrogacy and gestational carriers just aren't done in Australia and when it comes to adoption laws, we are way behind in attitude and policy.

Ex-Cosmo editor Bronwyn McCahon on her struggle to fall pregnant. Article continues after this video.

That leaves older women wanting a child with little option except to embark on a difficult journey through fertility treatment options and while many fertility professionals maintain an incredible level of responsibility, ensuring these women understand exactly what their chances are of conceiving, many don't.

As anyone who has undergone fertility treatment knows, it takes over your life and takes all of your money. If one treatment doesn't work there is always another you can try.

Then someone falls pregnant and says it's due to acupuncture;

Another attributes their new-found fertility to a paleo diet;

"Go on a holiday, it happens when you aren't stressing over it", another tells you;

This doctor has a very high rate of success for helping older women fall pregnant;

My cousin's sister's friend's boss fell pregnant at 512 by avoiding all preservatives!

"They often become desperate for help, even though the best thing to do is to keep trying to conceive naturally, and they’ll pay money for treatments that they don’t really need," Dr. John Parsons told The Telegraph in the UK. “I genuinely believe at least 50 per cent of the people who got pregnant didn’t need our help.”

Radio presenter Bianca Dye, 43, has been undergoing fertility treatment for years.

"Sure we did a zillion rounds of IVF and I used all my savings, but hey, we did what we had to," she wrote for mamamia.

"Don't throw me a pity party just yet (but if you do can it be a Frozen party!?) as we have two frozen embryos that we may use this year after my laparoscopy - I have endometriosis that needs some of that fun scraping stuff done. Can't wait! So the reality is that I'm still a good six months from popping either of those suckers back in and so God knows what the old universe has in store for me as far as being a mum goes. But you never know, right?"

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Bianca Dye has been undergoing fertility treatment for years. Image: Supplied

In Australia couples who can't let go of their dream of conceiving turn to overseas services in India and South America where than can get better access to controversial fertility services such as paid surrogates and egg donors.

None of this helps if you are determined to conceive using all of your own genetic material and carry the baby yourself.

Sometimes fertility treatments for older women work, and sometimes they don't, but what we do know is that it's going to be difficult and expensive. As long as women have a full understanding of their chances and the price they are likely to pay both emotionally and financially, then that's what truly matters.

Maybe it's enough to know that you've done everything you can to try and conceive. Maybe that gives women some peace. Others do have some success, after several missteps and miscarriages, however all that matters is that baby they are holding at the end.

A lot can go wrong.

Relationships can buckle under the strain, the woman's health can suffer and there isn't enough focus on the mental health of women undergoing fertility treatment.

The message seems to be, do your research and keep your expectations realistic. Try not to let it take over your whole life or relationship and if it's really what you want to do, go for it.

With your eyes wide open.

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