'We Were Unable to Fertilize Any of the Eggs'

Lena Dunham reveals how her one shot at IVF ended in failure
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2020 2:03 PM CST
'We Were Unable to Fertilize Any of the Eggs'
Lena Dunham in 2019.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

In 2018, actress Lena Dunham had her uterus, her cervix, and one of her ovaries removed at the age of 31 because of long-standing health issues. That was "the moment I lost my fertility," she writes in an essay at Harper's. Dunham immediately began looking into adoption, until a doctor informed her that her remaining ovary was still making eggs. Thus, she became an "IVF warrior," and Dunham recounts the arduous process of having eggs harvested from her ravaged body, toward the goal of getting them fertilized by a sperm donor and implanted in a surrogate. This story, however, does not have a happy, Hollywood ending.

“We were unable to fertilize any of the eggs," she recalls her doctor telling her by phone on Memorial Day of this year. "As you know, we had six. Five did not take. The one that did seems to have chromosomal issues ... ." Dunham writes that the phone call marked the end of her hopes of becoming a biological mother. "The irony is that knowing I cannot have a child—my ability to accept that and move on—may be the only reason I deserve to be anyone’s parent at all," she writes. "I think I finally have something to teach somebody." Read the full essay, in which Dunham, now 34, writes about the poignancy of lactating after the egg fertilization failed. (More Lena Dunham stories.)

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