Emmerdale's Gemma Oaten reveals miscarriage and fertility struggles after 13 year anorexia battle
EMMERDALE'S Gemma Oaten has revealed she suffered from a miscarriage three years ago after a 13 year anorexia battle.
The former soap star – who played Rachel Breckle in the ITV2 soap from 2011 to 2015 – bravely opened up about the how the illness has affected her fertility.
The 37-year-old took to Instagram to try and inform others about the connection between eating disorders and struggling to conceive.
From the comfort of her own home, the actress spoke honestly about her heartache with her 22.4k followers.
Gemma captioned the post: "I have been wanting to share this video for a while now. But never had the time or courage, but now I've realised this deserves my time and I've found my strength.
"Ever since I can remember I've always been told 'you're so good with kids Gem, you're a mum before you're a mum.'"
I buried my head in the sand… That won't happen to me
She went on to explain how the eating disorder, which she suffered with from the age of 12, has taken a toll on her body and her chances of becoming a mum have decreased because of it.
Gemma continued: "Then anorexia took hold and the conversation was about how if I carried on like this I may not be able to have children.
"I buried my head in the sand… That won't happen to me. The last ten years though, being well, away from the eating disorder, it's become more and more prominent on my mind."
Gemma then went on to open up about her recent trip to the fertility clinic with the hopes of freezing her eggs, but was shocked at how difficult the process could be.
Having had a miscarriage three years ago, something I've never spoken about until now
She also revealed the heartbreaking news that she lost a child back in 2018.
Gemma continued: "3 weeks ago I went to a Fertility clinic to look at the prospect of having children, freezing my eggs… facing up to my fears.
"Having had a miscarriage three years ago, something I've never spoken about until now, and also being a single 37 year old, it's was time to be brave.
"So here I am, heart exposed and arms wide open, saying "here I am!" and if it helps one person, its worth it."
'SO MANY STIGMAS'
"Too much is not discussed about eating disorders and the impact they have on the lives of sufferers and loved ones because of stigmas.
"So many stigmas. We need to be open to create change in the conversation. One of the long term affects of an eating disorder is that on Fertility.
"For men and for women. It's so important people know the risks, understand more. Not to scare monger, but to be aware.
"And if, like me, this is going to be a challenge, I'm posting this so you know you're not alone.
You are not alone
"I'm posting this for anyone who is at the early stages of an eating disorder to implore them to reach out, to those who are ED free to never go down this path, to those who have lost the chance to give birth, to feel hope, to those like me, who never dreamed this would be a reality, to know, we've got this.
"I'm posting this for anyone who has struggled with conception to know, as I do now, you can be a parent NO MATTER WHAT. We are here for you @seedsupportuk."
During the video 16 minute long video, Gemma explained that she wanted to look into if she could have children because she knows that weight loss can affect hormones, as well as the reproductive system.
Her periods stopped from when she was 11 and a half to 15 and a half, but now luckily has a regular cycle.
What is a miscarriage? And where can you get support?
A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy before 24 weeks in the UK, and 20 weeks in the US.
After this point, a pregnancy loss is classed as a stillbirth.
Sadly, miscarriages are common with most happening in the first three months – the first trimester.
An estimated one in eight pregnancies will end in miscarriage, according to the NHS.
But, in many cases a miscarriage will happen before a woman knows she's pregnant.
It is important to know miscarriages rarely happen because of something you did, or didn't do. In most cases, doctors don't know what causes the loss, which makes it very hard to prevent them.
However, there are lifestyle changes that can help reduce the risk of a miscarriage, according to the charity Tommy's.
They include not smoking, eating a healthy, balanced diet, losing weight before pregnancy if you're overweight or obese, trying to avoid infections in pregnancy like rubella, not drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs, staying active and limiting caffeine intake.
The risk of miscarriage does also increase with age, according to Tommy's.
Women under 30 have a 10 per cent chance of miscarriage, which doubles to 20 per cent for women aged 35 to 39. For those over the age of 45, the risk is 50 per cent.
The most common sign of miscarriage is bleeding, but cramping, a discharge of fluid or tissue from your vagina and no longer 'feeling' pregnant are also symptoms.
Many women will notice light bleeding in the early stages of pregnancy, but if you are worried it is important to speak to your midwife or hospital straight away.
Losing a baby is a deeply personal experience that affects people differently.
No matter when in your pregnancy you suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth, support is available from hospital counselling services as well as Tommy's and other charity groups.
However she emphasised that she was still scared about what she put her body through.
Gemma described the visit to the clinic as "emotional" and at her appointment she was told she has a cyst, and a mild form of endometriosis.
But the worrying thing they pointed out was that she doesn't have many follicles, and a woman of her age should have at least 16 or 17, and he could only see five.
She explained: "Through the egg freezing process of my age, you would expect an egg freeze to create 16 at least, and for you to have the best possible outcome, they need around 20 eggs."
The telly favourite was told that if she went through the ovarian stimulation, she would only get three eggs, and would have to go through the process a minimum of six times.
She explained the harsh reality of the news and said: "If I don't freeze my eggs now, my 30% chance of getting pregnant goes to 15% next year, and goes to 10% the year after that."
Gemma said that she has had to come to terms with the outcome of not having children herself, but there are other ways to become a mum through adoption or fostering.
The star made it clear that although the doctors didn't say that her anorexia battle and her fertility issues are connected, she just want to raise awareness for those suffering.
She said: "Whether this news I've received is connected to the eating disorder or not, the doctor couldn't categorically say .
"But I think yeah. I think yeah. But that doesn't mean I go about my day now, or my week, or my life, going I royally f*****d up.
"And I ruined my chances, because remember if you're feeling like that, and you've been through an eating disorder, or you're going through this at the moment or you've been told your chance of kids has been taken away from you, remember an eating disorder is not a choice."
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