Study Shows Black Women Stay Quiet about Infertility


While black women are twice as likely as white women to suffer from infertility, studies show, they only seek help for it about half as much.

Furthermore, a recent report by the University of Michigan suggests, black women are far less likely than white women to talk to others about their fertility struggle. Black women stay quiet about infertility.

Black Women Stay Quiet about InfertilityIn the University of Michigan study, which focused specifically on black women and infertility, 32 percent of those who answered the questions said they felt incomplete as black women because they did not have biological children of their own.

“African American women may face the stereotype of being more fertile than other women,” Janelle Luk, medical director and co-founder of Generation Next Fertility in New York, told the Chicago Tribune. “Although a completely incorrect assumption, this brings on stigma to infertile women.

It may lead to feelings of inadequacy and shame, despite it sometimes being out of a woman’s control.”

Chiquita Lockley, who recently produced a film documentary entitled “Eggs Over Easy: Black Women and Infertility”, believes there has long been this idea that black females are more fertile than their white counterparts, which studies show is not at all true. But the fable has been around since the time of slavery, she notes, with slaves of childbearing age fetching far more on the auction block than older females.

As such, for hundreds of years, the thought has been that black women have no problem getting pregnant. However, that thought isn’t only prevalent amongst outsiders (non-Blacks) but also among the black community as well. As such, infertile black women have been made to feel inferior, hence the silence on their part.

Tiffany Harper, a 36-year-old Chicago lawyer and black female, confirms that she indeed felt that way. It took her 5 years to see a fertility specialist and even longer to try to find others in her community with which she could commiserate and share her struggles and grief. She finally found a Facebook group called Fertility for Colored Girls, but hesitated to “like” the page for fear that she’d be found out. Instead, she private messaged the administrator and then attended one of the group’s in-person gatherings, finally realizing that there were others exactly like her.

She had finally found her community.

Harper, who now has a daughter after three rounds of IVF, says she finally decided to tell others outside of that community about her infertility issues after her second failed round of IVF. So she did a Facebook live chat and found more support from women of all races.

Yet, she told Chicago Tribune reporter Danielle Braff that other black women still looked at her and thought “Why are you doing fertility treatments?” and, furthermore, “Why are you talking about it?”

Pastor Stacey Edwards-Dunn, who started the Fertility for Colored Girls Facebook page, says it’s all about education. Reproductive endocrinologist and infertility expert Amanda Kallen agrees.

Changing the narrative needs to happen on various levels, Kallen explains. This includes improving pregnancy outcomes for women of color, making sure that fertility treatment advertising is inclusive and having more conversations about infertility in this community.

“We have to have loud, public conversations about infertility, and how it touches everyone.”

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