'It wasn't my fault': Dame Valerie Adams on her fertility battle, and ending the cultural stigma

Olympic shot putter Dame Valerie Adams has been open about her struggles with fertility - and after having her second child via IVF, she's even more determined to end the stigma around it.

In March she gave birth to son Kepaleli, 18 months after daughter Kimoana was born. She and husband Gabriel Price used a frozen embryo they had left over, and were lucky enough to conceive Kepaleli on the first try.

Adams has endometriosis and a low egg supply, an issue many women face but one which is rarely talked about - particularly in the Tongan community.

"Unfortunately it's a subject that's not spoken about a lot, and it should be," she told The Project.

"It's not taboo. I want people to realise there is help out there. Knowledge is power, go out there and get information and get help. Don't just give up so easily. People sometimes think 'you don't have a baby because you must be cursed', but that's not the way. I had endometriosis. It was an issue, it wasn't my fault, it was genetic.

"But also don't forget men have slow swimmers so they need to be checked, it's not only the females that have the issues."

She advises anyone struggling to conceive to get medical advice as soon as they can.

"First thing's first, speak to your GP. They'll be able to do some tests and direct you in the right direction. It's very unfortunate, there are so many amazing people out there who deserve to be parents and have dreams of having a family. The possibilities are endless if you just go out there."

Coming from a big family, she never expected to struggle with fertility.

"My father fathered a lot of kids, my sister had four kids, so I never thought I would have an issue with conceiving a child, but unfortunately genetics caught up with me and my age caught up with me. My sisters had children quite young and it worked in their favour. Unfortunately for me I waited a little bit long, but I went out and got help."

Before Kimoana was conceived, Adams and her husband lost a 'cycle' of eggs while undergoing IVF, which she likens to "mourning a death".

"Men suffer quietly. The females are the ones who have to go out and get hormone injections and lots of things happen, but he's been very supportive. But we have to be mindful they're also going through it. He was more supportive of me but later on I realised he needed support for himself."

The couple didn't tell their parents they were having IVF treatments until Kimoana was born because they "wanted to protect ourselves".

"It's so emotional and you go through such a rocky rollercoaster, but it's also important to speak about these things and let people in that you trust."

The mum-of-two now has her sights set on Tokyo 2020, but her top priority is her family and to "get healthy".

"It was interesting, I had a guy ask me a couple of weeks ago 'are you back at training?' I was like 'I had a baby four weeks ago, what have you done with your life today?'"

Newshub.

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