Nearly one out of every eight couples in the U.S. are affected by infertility. For National Infertility Awareness Week, “GMA” is spotlighting infertility stories to help demystify and destigmatize all paths to parenthood.
Food Network star Katie Lee shared a deeply personal Instagram post Wednesday about her struggle with infertility.
"It is really hard to put on a happy face," Lee, 37, wrote. "Fertility issues are supposed to be private so many of us are silently in pain."
Lee and her husband, Ryan Biegel, planned to start a family soon after they wed last September, she wrote. Their plans were derailed when Lee had to have surgery "to correct a problem," then got an infection and shingles.
An attempt at in vitro fertilization (IVF) resulted in no healthy embryos, according to the chef.
"Not only is IVF physically exhausting, the emotional toll is unparalleled," Lee wrote. "We were filled with hope and excitement only to be crushed."
Lee, who appears on TV weekly as a co-host of "The Kitchen," also wrote candidly about both being a woman with no kids in the public eye, and about undergoing IVF in the spotlight.
"When people ask me when I’m getting pregnant, it hurts. It’s just a reminder that I’m not," she wrote. "When they say I look like I’ve gained weight, I have. I can’t exercise as much and the hormones have made me bloated."
"There is so much pressure on women to look a certain way and while most mean well with baby questions, it can be hurtful," she continued.
Lee said she was hesitant to share her story publicly but was motivated by the comfort she felt from hearing other women's stories.
"And I hope any of you in a similar situation know you are not alone," she wrote.
Lee's post received more than 100,000 likes and thousands of comments.
"I feel like this could be written as reflection of my experience," wrote one person.
"I read this 20 times, sitting here in tears understating your pain and hurt. This post strikes so deep for me in EVERY SINGLE WAY and so much of it for women I know," wrote another.
Nearly 12% of all women ages 15 to 44 have used infertility services in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lee said in a later Instagram story that she felt "relief" after sharing her story.
"It really means to the world to me that so many of you reached out and shared your stories and shared your support," she said. "I just feel such a sense of relief and it just feels good, so thank you."
Lee's post about her infertility ended on a hopeful note for her family.
"I know a family will happen for us, it is just going to be a different journey than we imagined.," she wrote. "We will keep working towards it. Someday we will have our happy new beginning and I pray any of you experiencing the same will have yours too."