Millions of reproductive-aged women in America struggle with infertility, as was the case for The Real Housewives of New York City’s Jessel Taank, who underwent I.V.F. (in vitro fertilization) treatments before giving birth to her twins, as she revealed in Episode 2 of the series.
Jessel Taank discusses her struggles to conceive children.
The New York-based fashion publicist discussed her private life with fellow ‘Wives Erin Lichy, Ubah Hassan, Sai de Silva, and Jenna Lyons while out for a candlelit dinner in the Hamptons on Season 14, Episode 2. Before Jessel and her husband, Pavit Randhawa, had their now-toddler-aged sons, Kai and Rio, the pair spent “a long friggin’ time” trying to conceive, she explained.
“We were married seven years before I got pregnant,” Jessel told the group.
She further described feeling stressed by others regularly asking when she and Pavit would have children. Specialists told her she had “unidentified fertility object,” prompting her to undergo five cycles of I.V.F. treatment.
“It was brutal,” Jessel told RHONY producers.
What is unexplained infertility?
Unexplained infertility is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning experts are unable to identify a cause, such as endometriosis or fibroids. Doctors will often suggest various kinds of treatment, including medications, I.V.F, or other assisted reproductive technological procedures (like intrauterine insemination), looking at a woman’s physical and biological factors on a case-by-case basis.
I.V.F. requires extracting ovum (eggs) from a woman’s ovaries and combining them with sperm outside the body before the fertilized egg is implanted back into the uterus. The process also utilizes hormone injections to boost the woman’s egg production, sometimes leading to multiple births (as was the case for Jessel and Pavit). The injections can have unpleasant side effects, such as weight gain, hot flashes, fatigue, abdominal pain, and more.
There are many schools of thought on unexplained infertility and its causes, including underlying disease and the quality of women’s eggs. The diagnosis can only be made after a battery of tests on both the man and the woman is completed.
While sources vary, unexplained infertility accounts for around 10 to 30 percent of infertility in the United States.
Jessel, a British woman with an Indian background, told the rest of the RHONY cast that some Indian people look at infertility as “such a taboo.”
“It’s so tough,” Jessel told the group. “It becomes, like, gossip, and I didn’t want to be the subject of any negativity.”
Jessel said she kept her I.V.F. a secret from her mother — who appeared in the RHONY Season 14 premiere — out of concern of worrying her loved ones.
“We are a very reserved culture, and everything circulates around family,” said Jessel. “I didn’t want to be seen as weak, I didn’t want to be seen as unable, and so I chose to continue this narrative that everything’s fine.”