As a fertility advocate, I get a lot of press releases. And sometimes, I really love them. Especially when they actually have more to tell me than why I should I buy a product or see a movie! Did you know that 12% of women of reproductive age experience difficulty having a baby and black women have twice the odds of infertility compared to white women? I didn’t.
11.5% of black women report infertility compared to 7% of white women, yet studies indicate that black women use infertility services less often. Why?
“In the past, there was a lack of attention toward the problem of infertility in black women, and most marketing campaigns of infertility awareness and treatment were not directed towards us. This resulted in a lack of awareness about infertility as a disease and about avenues for seeking evaluation and treatment,” says Dr. Desiree McCarthy-Keith, of Georgia Reproductive Specialists. “Cost of infertility services can be prohibitive to couples from all ethnic backgrounds and cost may be a factor for some black women as well,” she continues. “I believe lack of access to infertility care and limited awareness about evaluation and treatment options can also be substantial obstacles that keep many women from receiving the care that they need.”
Most of us don’t realize that the leading cause of infertility in black women is uterine fibroids. We don’t know why but black women develop uterine fibroids at a younger age then white women. Even bigger news is that the incidence of fibroids is higher in black women at every age, compared to white women. According to Dr. McCathy-Keith, “By the end of the reproductive years, the incidence of uterine fibroids in black women is 80%. As a result, black women have hysterectomies for treatments of fibroids more often than women from any other ethnic group”.
Dr. McCarthy-Keith, whose medical research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of uterine fibroid regulation, states that “black women are disproportionately affected by uterine fibroids and uterine fibroids are a common diagnosis among black women undergoing infertility treatment.”
Lack of information holds so many people locked down and isolated. Thank heavens that in the African American community there is now The Broken Brown Egg, a national support group created to support the needs of people of color who are trying to conceive.
Shame and feelings of isolation are often the biggest issues in getting people to come out to get the information that they need. The internet is great for so much. But often, there is nothing like face to face support for getting through the stuff that most people don’t talk about at cocktail parties.
|Pamela Madsen was the first Executive Director of RESOLVE NYC and is the Founder of The American Fertility Association. Pamela is an internationally known fertility advocate who has appeared on Oprah and countless other major media outlets. Currently, Pamela is a fertility coach and publisher of The Fertility Advocate. She is also a blogger for Psychology Today and SpermCheck Fertility.|