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Number One Reason You Are Infertile: Not Enough Yummy, Soulful Sex

As a vegetarian who makes her food from scratch to avoid processed meals, you would think that I’d be pretty excited about Alicia Silverstone’s new book.  After all, she tackles infertility as one of her topics.  Fertility is even part of her title: The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning.

I want supercharged fertility. Apparently, all I have to do is “Eat well, get healthy, then ditch all the planning and trying and just let it flow. There’s no better way to make a baby than with yummy, soulful sex!”

Her book description on Amazon begins:

When did making babies get to be so hard? Infertility is on the rise globally, affecting as many as one in six couples. But instead of considering diet and lifestyle factors, doctors pump their patients full of expensive and invasive fertility treatments.

Oh.

So I didn’t have to do fertility treatments?  All I had to do is change my lifestyle choices?  For example (according to the book): stop using tampons?

Well, there is thousands upon thousands of dollars we’re not getting back.

Surely she’ll have something helpful to tell me about radiant pregnancy. I’ve had a lot of chemical ones, and the only one that went past 6 weeks ended early with pre-term labour. How can I prevent that?

All I have to do is eat plant-based foods and then I will “supercharge fertility; reduce your likelihood of miscarriage; infuse breast milk with all kinds of nutrient goodness that make your kids smart and healthy; and help stave off diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes.”

It took me a moment to remember that I DO eat a vegetarian diet heavy in plant-based foods. How did it go so wrong in my body? I not only never got supercharged fertility, but I miscarried, went into preterm labour, the twins were IUGR, and I produced no breast milk.

I could be the exception to the rule.  I own that possibility.  But it’s also possible that Silverstone’s new book places ideas out there that are hurtful at best and dangerous at worst.  No vaccines?  Claims that following her advice can prevent or cure “PMS, insomnia, allergies, breakouts, weight struggles, thyroid condition, lupus, multiple sclerosis—while significantly lowering your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer”?

Plant-based diets are wonderful.  Being mindful of the decisions you make on behalf of your child is wonderful.  Anecdotal evidence has been used for thousands of years in raising children, with knowledge passed from one mother to another.

And perhaps that is it.  Maybe if Silverstone spoke about her own experience with infertility and wanted to discuss the way she treated it (and if she provided the caveat that what worked for her may not work with other people with other diagnoses), I wouldn’t have such a problem with this book.  But Alicia Silverstone wasn’t infertile.  She didn’t have a “doctor pump [her] full of expensive and invasive fertility treatments.”  She isn’t passing along anecdotal evidence on infertility.  She’s parroting what others have told her.

She’s parroting anti-vaccination speeches without having done the research on vaccines herself.  She’s parroting what scientists have said about how chemicals interact with the body or what psychologists have said about child development.  And there’s a danger when a layperson parrots what she has been told vs. what she has studied in-depth or lived.

This book worries me.

28 comments

1 Persnickety { 04.29.14 at 8:14 am }

Oh so many things that will make me mad. For starters- that tampon thing! I must be the outlier there because I rarely use them, so would dearly love to know why I am still subfertile.
And vaccinations!!! When I was in college, one of my jobs was as a telephone researcher for an ongoing survey on vaccination of toddlers for the CDC. Which, if you are going to be one of those annoying telephone people is actually a not bad survey to work on. I have strong feelings about vaccination, and having lived through a rather scary viral outbreak for which there was no vaccine ( still not) and where we didn’t know at the time how it spread, I cannot understand not vaccinating if you have the chance.
Just once, I want a celebrity to talk about the fact that polio sucks and that’s it’s really important that we stick a needle in your small child to ensure they never get it, or that vaccinating against whooping cough protects small babies.

2 loribeth { 04.29.14 at 8:31 am }

I heard about the book on Slate, albeit not the infertility angle. :p Needless to say, not on my reading list. :p

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/04/24/alicia_silverstone_writes_a_parenting_book_enough_with_the_celebrity_mom.html

3 Pepper { 04.29.14 at 8:58 am }

This kind of uninformed lecturing makes my blood boil. You are not a doctor – you don’t even have your own experiences with infertility – and you are going to spread this garbage?? This is why the average person on the street thinks it is ok to tell us things like, “Have you considered surrogacy? I’ve heard it’s easy” or “Have you considered gaining weight? You might be too thin.” Right. Thanks.

I think the bigger problem is that our society builds up celebrities to be authorities on everything, simply because they are well-known and, maybe, have money and time to invest in answers. But that’s not true. And what’s worse is the celebrities that buy into this themselves. Because, seriously? I’ve been through a lot of infertility- and pregnancy-related stuff. Procedures, doctors, tests, IVF, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, pre-term labor, a preemie… and I still don’t consider myself an expert in anyone’s life but my own.

This book makes me mad.

4 Pepper { 04.29.14 at 8:59 am }

Ok, I just checked out her reviews on Amazon and have slightly renewed faith in people – lots of one stars and questions about her crazy advice. Not that I wish ill on her or the hurt of bad reviews but give. me. a. break.

5 nicoleandmaggie { 04.29.14 at 9:20 am }

ugh

6 Justine { 04.29.14 at 9:26 am }

Yep, I guess we didn’t have yummy enough sex for those years of miscarriage and secondary infertility. Sux to be me. (Oh, Alicia. *sigh*)

7 a { 04.29.14 at 9:59 am }

I heard about this on the radio last week and just shook my head. I also found out that my SIL (#2) has not vaccinated (fully in one case, at all in the other) her children…but I can’t say anything without starting a family war. And what I really want to say is that SIL #3 who is about to have a baby, should forbid SIL #2 children from coming around.

8 mrs spock { 04.29.14 at 10:00 am }

I was a vegetarian for years. It never cured my fibromyalgia, and it never stopped me from developing mixed connective tissue disease (a rarer cousin of lupus) or the possible MS I’ve been living with for 5 years. Or keep me from being subfertile.

Must be nice to have the fact that you were already built healthy and well reinforced by whatever diet and lifestyle you fancy.

9 fifi { 04.29.14 at 10:31 am }

But but but she’s discovered a cure for multiple sclerosis! And lupus! and insomnia! She’s a regular Doctor House, but far less grumpy.

And tampons obviously cause infertility, because men don’t use tampons and you know there’s no such thing as MFI according to the popular press.

Another piece of Silverstone wisdom: “Though it’s less common among kind mamas, some women experience the blues after giving birth.” So, all you mamas with postnatal depression, you are obviously not “kind” enough. Just a little something to add to your self-flagellation, in case you didn’t have enough.

And on the anti-vaccine stuff… Sorry, I can’t be snarky on this. The British guy who started the whole vaccine/autism scare was a fraud and a whole load of large-scale studies have failed to find any correlation between vaccines and autism. Google “Olivia Dahl measles”, “Gene Tierney rubella”, or for a more recent story “Dana McCaffery pertussis”, if you want to see what vaccine-preventable diseases can wreak. Please, take advice from your doctor, not from pretty actresses. Please.

10 KeAnne { 04.29.14 at 12:00 pm }

I just can’t with her. Why do people keep giving these celebrity morons book deals?

11 Meredith { 04.29.14 at 12:31 pm }

KeAnne, I’d love to know the same thing. Jenny McCarthy was bad enough. Then Kristen Cavalierri started making uneducated claims about vaccines. Now we have Alicia Silverstone – the most “clueless” of them all. I, too, was put through the infertility wringer. Through persistence, the help of an amazing doctor and a solid dose of pure luck, I was able to come out on the other side, with our baby girl due in just a few weeks. I know many aren’t so lucky. And it has nothing to do with diet, being a “kind mama,” or not having enough soulful sex. Hopefully this book will end up at the bottom of the bargain bin, where it belongs.

12 Katie { 04.29.14 at 12:45 pm }

This all is very bothersome, but the vaccination argument especially upsets me. In the School of Autism associated with where I where, they were recently completely shut down for several months due a ongoing chicken pox outbreak so these kids weren’t getting the therapy they desperately needed.

Along the same lines – no vaccines in many of these kids and yet they still have autism. No processed or food or tampons in many your readers, and yet here were are, still infertile.

13 Nicole { 04.29.14 at 1:28 pm }

Why do people think because they get pregnant easily that they are an expert in infertility? Yeah… I just needed to eat more lettuce and not go for IVF! I should be so happy that Ms. Silverstone has set me straight. My infertility is all my fault because I don’t eat well enough just like if I get post partum depression it isn’t due to hormone levels and exhaustion, etc nope… all my fault for having a bowl of ice cream instead of celery. The measles outbreak here in MA this winter definitely argues against the anti-vaxxers. Where do they think this is coming from?

Now if you will excuse me I have to go chew up food and spit it into my toddler’s mouth because that is good parenting.

14 Katherine A { 04.29.14 at 1:59 pm }

So…the fact that I don’t ovulate, had to have IVF to get pregnant at all and then have had 1 ‘regular’ miscarriage and 1 ‘pregnancy of unknown location’/ectopic miscarriage with no baby to show for it is somehow related to not having enough “yummy soulful sex” or eating enough lettuce? If only I had thought of those things myself!

It is already hard enough to explain to people why I need IVF to get pregnant, and these myths that Silverstone is spreading make it much harder to explain why IVF/treatments need to be covered under insurance. It makes it sound like infertility/miscarriage are somehow the person’s fault, not a medical problem. I’m a bit tender on this subject right now and part of me just wants to walk up to her and yell “I have MEDICAL issues! F*cking MEDICAL issues that prevent me from getting pregnant naturally no matter what diet I follow or how much sex I have! What I ate – or didn’t eat – did not cause my infertility or my miscarriages.” It galls me because I’ve worked really hard to eat well, lose and then maintain my weight, and even with all that plus treatments can’t seem to maintain a pregnancy.

And the not vaccinating thing…oh, my. That’s just horrifying. And dangerous.

15 Stacey { 04.29.14 at 2:55 pm }

Looks like she hasn’t moved on much from “Clueless”, after all.

16 catie { 04.29.14 at 3:22 pm }

Why anyone would want advice (of any kind) from an actress they’ve never met, never will meet and knows nothing about them is beyond me. Silverstone, Paltrow, McCarthy… really? How about talk to your doctor, mom, friend, co-worker….

17 ANDMom { 04.29.14 at 6:42 pm }

Most of what she says I can blow off with a “people can live how they want, even if it’s not what I want for me” attitude. You want to name your kid Bear? Go ahead. Be a vegetarian – more steak for me! But writing this book crosses a line into a judgement zone that is very uncomfortable. Being infertile is because of your diet, PPD is somehow your fault, etc. I hate to see that guilt ladled onto women – though I hope most women are strong enough to realize that she’s a an actress and not an authority on anything at all.

What worries me most is the anti-vaccination stance. There’s already too much out there. For one reason or another, people believe celebrities, and tossing one more weight onto the anti-vax scale is just going to make things more dangerous for public health.

18 Cristy { 04.29.14 at 7:03 pm }

Argh. My head hurts from reading this post. The whole idea that Alicia Silverstone is giving advice scares me. But giving fertility advice?!?!? Yeah, makes as much sense as leaving a dog with a tennis ball and then expecting them not to play with it.

As always, people who preach about topics they have no experience with are usually the first to say some pretty stupid and insensitive things. I’m Ms. Silverstone’s case, the fact she was able to conceive easily and carry her baby to term makes her an ideal candidate for this type I stupidity. I’m willing to bet good money that if she was hit with secondary infertility her tune would rapidly change, but one can only speculate.

19 Melissa { 04.29.14 at 8:03 pm }

I am not pro or con on Alicia Silverstone. And I cannot speak for other individuals because infertility is such a personal thing (even those with similar dx don’t have the same outcomes to the same treatments). But I will say that I, myself, amazingly and miraculously got pregnant without doctor intervention. I have PCOS and a lack of ovulation was the main culprit. “Lots of sex” doesn’t help when there isn’t an egg waiting, right?
Anyway, after 13 years of waiting for it to happen on its own, I changed my diet (primarily whole-foods vegan), joined Weight Watchers, started taking a handful of vitamins (including D, which I lacked immensely living in the PNW and working indoors), started monthly massages, chiropractic, and acupuncture (because, why not?) and after 3 months and 30 lbs lost I noticed I was ovulating and had my husband help me take advantage. It worked, my son was born 8 months later (6.5 weeks early), and just turned one a few months ago.
I have told people who ask “How did you do it?” the process I took, and the somehow-it-worked-for-me-in-that-combination recipe I stated above, and I always end with “But I don’t know if I’ll ever have the stars align for me again and have another one.” They laugh because they think I’m kidding. Because infertility cannot be cured, just temporarily circumvented so we can have (and relish) our miracle babies.
Nothing cuts deeper into an infertile woman’s soul than having another woman who easily had children tell her that she “just needs to…” to get pregnant, have a baby, etc. Because our hearts are already hurting, we never need another to make the pain worse.

20 Queenie { 04.29.14 at 10:23 pm }

I’m all for healthful living, but blech. Preachy, sanctimonious bullshit.

21 Northern Star { 04.29.14 at 11:54 pm }

Oh my GOD. Yummy soulful sex hey? This probably had everything to do with why my eggs deteriorated prematurely and I’ve had years of endo pain. Also probably the same reason that my grandmother, mother and sister all experienced secondary infertility and multiple miscarriages. What a crock of shite.

22 Mali { 04.30.14 at 12:56 am }

Stacey wins for best comment!

I agree with so many of the others – this makes me fume. This is what is wrong with the cult of celebrity. Regardless of what they know (or in this case, don’t know), they still get a voice.

23 Working mom of 2 { 04.30.14 at 1:36 am }

Ugh. I’m vegan and have always been glad celebs like Alicia were out there supporting the cause (and no, it’s not a matter if you like vanilla I like chocolate–innocent animals are doing if you keep eating meat.

Anyway, I was therefore extremely disappointed to read she came out with this book full of BS. Haven’t read it , won’t buy it, seen enough already. Just ugh. I hate these non dr non scientists (former chemist here, hate the uneducated writings about “chemicals” (newsflash all matter is composed of chemicals). And the pro dr sears anyone crib anti vac stuff…crap like this makes people look askance at vegans even though most of us are regular educated people.

24 Emma { 04.30.14 at 8:15 am }

I saw AS being interviewed on a TV show last week promoting her book. She didn’t seem confident in the advice she was giving and I was shaking my head because it wasn’t even good advice. I thought it strange though. If you wrote a book, shouldn’t you be confident about it? Shouldn’t you be excited about it? She didn’t seem either.

This book has the perinatal mental health realm in an uproar too, and rightly so. I agree with you, Mel. This book is givin all sorts of wrong info. It can be dangerous in the hands of a naive mom or the people who don’t bother educating themselves.

25 Jess { 04.30.14 at 10:39 am }

The worst part isn’t that she wrote that crap. The worst part is someone out there will believe her. Yuck.

26 Shelby { 04.30.14 at 11:29 am }

Your worry is shared. The ironic thing is, I would bet money that people going through infertility as a group are so much more mindful about diet and lifestyle factors than the general TTC population. My goodness–while TTC, many of my IF buddies even avoided ice cubes in their water! I am so tired of uneducated laypeople actors claiming to be experts. Being in the public eye, they do have more power and in this case, that power is not being used for good.

Alicia Silverstone is making broad-sweeping claims about an experience (infertility) she knows absolutely zilch about. Do you think any of us who have needed invasive medical intervention to build our family wanted it that way? I would have LOVED to have had my lifestyle changes make it possible for me to make a baby with ‘yummy, soulful’ sex rather than a room full of doctors, but if she had done ANY research, she would have seen that for many, that’s not even remotely an option- no matter how much kale you eat.

It’s very frustrating that this actress is perpetuating this myth that infertility as a disease really doesn’t exist–that it is simply the result of bad personal choices. Why are reproductive organs somehow separated from what we know about all other organs? They can and sometimes do have dysfunction. Why is that such a hard concept? Does the stigma of infertility drive people to want to lay personal blame at the feet of the affected? I don’t get it. Anyhow, thanks for another setback, lady.

27 SRB { 04.30.14 at 1:41 pm }

Well, Shelby just took the thoughts right out of my brain. My main issue with her “thoughts” on infertility (among other things) is that it perpetuates the attitude that women’s health issues are *all their fault*. That has to stop, right NOW.

28 Morgan { 04.30.14 at 4:13 pm }

Your worry is completely logical, and quite frankly just knowing this book is out there makes my blood boil…. I have no words.. or at least not nice ones to share…

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