Celine Dion, Her Spawn Will Go On and On…

Feb 16, 2010 | Stacy Matson | Celebrity Health
Celine Dion, Her Spawn Will Go On and On…

image by: Anirudh Koul

Coping with infertility can be difficult. It's an issue of the unknown — you can't foresee how long it will last or what the outcome will be

Celine Dion is the youngest of fourteen children born to a musical family in a rural Canadian town. She began her professional singing career at the age of 12 after a song she wrote was discovered by her (future) record producer husband. She had many successes in Canada but Dion’s international breakthrough came when she recorded the title track to Disney’s 'Beauty and the Beast’ and Titanic’s, ‘My Heart Will Go On’. She has since sold an estimated 220 million albums. More recently, her Las Vegas show, A New Day, ended after a 5 year, sold out run, and became one of the highest grossing concerts in music history, taking in over $400,000,000.

Despite her many professional accomplishments there was one thing that eluded Dion- children. Soon after she married her manager/husband René Angélil in 1994, she tried to start a family.  In an excerpt from her autobiography ‘My Story, My Dream’ she claims that she never thought her “life would fall apart without [children] but; I was waiting for it, looking for it and making it part of my plans." Dion was young, in her 20’s, healthy and active; she had no reason to believe that conceiving would be a challenge for her. But after several years of trying, she was still not pregnant.  

Sadly infertility became a secondary health issue when her husband was diagnosed with cancer in 1999. Doctors told the couple that chemotherapy and radiation might affect Angélil's sperm so they froze some for future use. At this time they discovered the source of their fertility problems; Angélil's sperm count was very low and lacked motility. Approximately one third of all fertility problems have a male factor component, and in Dion’s and Angélil's case, this was true.  The couple was told that if they wanted to become pregnant in the future, they would need the help of Assistive Reproductive Technology (ART). 

A few years later, once Angélil was cancer free, the couple tried again to conceive, this time using in vitro fertilization. The couple used a procedure called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection.  The ICSI method begins in the Petri dish where an individual egg is injected with a single sperm. If fertilization occurs, the embryo is implanted into the uterus. To stimulate her ovaries and prepare her body for pregnancy, Dion gave herself daily injections of Gonadotropin, a follicle-stimulating hormone. Eventually, 18 eggs were extracted from Dion's ovaries, and the ICSI process began.  Used with in vitro fertilization and eggs of good quality, ICSI is often a successful treatment for infertility and has an estimated 25% to 30% birth rate. For Dion and her husband the final result was a boy, 9-year-old Rene-Charles, and a bunch of embryos that the couple kept frozen, until now. 

In August of 2009, Dion announced that she was pregnant again but, unfortunately it was not successful. Her husband confirmed in November 2009 that she had miscarried, he says, “Its life, you know? A lot of people go through this. We are living the reality of the majority of couples who have to use IVF. The process can be long and arduous." The couple plans to continue with their fertility treatments even though four previous attempts have failed. Dion says, “Five’s my lucky number, so this is the time it's got to [work].  I'm going to try until it works.”

Infertility is very common; approximately 10 to 15 percent of all couples in the United States struggle with it and about one third of all fertility problems have a male factor component. Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant despite having frequent, unprotected sex for at least one year if you are 35 or younger, 6 months if you are over 40. The cause or causes of infertility can involve one or both partners, they can be complex or they can be easily fixed.  Fortunately, there are many safe and effective therapies for overcoming infertility and these treatments can significantly improve your chances of becoming pregnant.

Coping with infertility can be difficult. It's an issue of the unknown — you can't foresee how long it will last or what the outcome will be.

Stacy Matson is a health enthusiast from Southern California and regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World, as well as contributing to the Best of the Best.

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