Emmerdale actress Gemma Oaten took to Instagram on Tuesday to talk to her followers about suffering a miscarriage three years ago.
The TV star, 37, explained that her 13-year battle with anorexia led to struggles with fertility, and that she has looked into freezing her eggs.
Tragically, she was told there weren’t many to retrieve – leading her to the admission online, to help others who might be battling an eating disorder or struggles with fertility.
Emmerdale actress Gemma Oaten took to Instagram on Tuesday to talk to her followers about suffering a miscarriage three years ago
Next to the brave video, she wrote: ‘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.” 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, its become more and more prominent on my mind.
‘This video is longer than I normally post. Some say you shouldn’t do long form videos as people lose interest. But then I realised, the people who need it will. This isn’t about likes and numbers, this is real life.
The TV star, 37, explained that her 13-year battle with anorexia led to struggles with fertility, and that she has looked into freezing her eggs
‘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.
‘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.
Tragic: She was told there weren’t many to retrieve – leading her to the admission online, to help others who might be battling an eating disorder or struggles with fertility
‘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.
‘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 [sic].’
In the video, Gemma talked about how eating disorders effect sex hormones, organs and can halt a woman’s menstrual cycle.
She explained that she started her periods when she was 10, but by 11 they had stopped, and didn’t return until she was 13.
Open: She wrote an impassioned caption next to the video
WHAT IS ANOREXIA?
Anorexia is an eating disorder and a mental health condition.
People diagnosed with it try to keep their weight as low as possible by eating little or excessive exercise.
Men and women can develop the illness, however it typically starts in the mid-teens.
Those with anorexia can have a distorted image of their bodies, thinking they’re fat when in fact they are severely underweight.
Causes of the condition are unknown, but those with it have either low self-esteem, have a family history of eating disorders or feel pressured from society or place of work.
Long term health complications can include muscle and bone problems, loss of sex drive, kidney or bowel problems or having a weakened immune system.
Treatment for anorexia can include cognitive behavioural therapy.
‘Even when I was fighting for my life I always thought kids would be in my future because I’d make a bloody good mum,’ she said. ‘Please don’t feel scared or ashamed if you’re having trouble conceiving and you want to talk about your fertility.’
Gemma has a cyst and a mild form of endometriosis, she revealed, explaining that her doctor informed her she doesn’t have as many follicles as a woman her age should. She should have at least 16 or 17 but only has five.
She was also told a 37-year-old should have around 16-20 eggs for freezing, but that Gemma only had three during the consultation, meaning she would need around six sessions to retrieve enough eggs.
‘My options for that and the news of that was quite a lot to take in,’ she said. ‘I was like, S**t, it’s real, and I know it’s not a no, but I’ve basically been told that if I don’t freeze my eggs now, my 30 per cent chance of getting pregnant goes to 15 per cent next year, goes to 10 per cent the year after that.
‘And unless I’ve got the money and the willpower and the mental strength and all of that to do this now, I might be looking at a future without children.’
Gemma is considering other options, such as fostering or adoption.
For miscarriage advice, visit miscarriageassociation.org.uk; to speak to an advisor about eating disorders, contact Beat on 0808 801 0677 or for the youth helpline call 0808 801 0711.
Difficult: The Emmerdale star previously admitted she lost over a decade of her life to the disorder after being admitted to a psychiatric unit when she was just 11 years old