Black History Month & Fertility
During Black History Month, it is important that we not only celebrate the courageous achievements of Black pioneers, but also remind ourselves of the work needed to continue forming a more equitable society, especially in the world of healthcare.
For instance, historically, Black women are highly underrepresented in medical studies. This issue is acutely evident throughout all sectors of healthcare, and fertility care is no exception. Because early research on fertility did not include Black women, rates of infertility in the Black community have been relatively unclear. However, newer, more inclusive studies have found that Black women may in fact have higher rates of infertility than white women, but are half as likely to seek treatment. Multiple factors bar many in the Black community from proper care, including access to treatment, misinformation, and/or the lack thereof.
Access to Fertility Treatments
One of the main hurdles to equitable healthcare is financial access. Even for those with sustainable employment and salaries, fertility coverage is not guaranteed and treatment is hard to afford. Access to healthcare is even harder for black families, as studies have found that due to systemic racism, Black women are less likely to be married, and receive lower incomes and lower education levels, making care such as fertility treatments far less of a possibility than it is for white women. Fortunately, a few organizations exist to help reduce the financial burden for those seeking fertility services:
- Broken Brown Egg (dedicated to Black women and families)
- Fertility for Colored Girls (dedicated to Black women and families)
- Cade Foundation
- BabyQuest Foundation
- Coalition For Family Building
- Livestrong Fertility
In addition to grants, there are several loans available to help finance fertility treatment. That said, to truly limit racial disparities in access to fertility care, systemic change is desperately needed.
To help support racist agendas, early 20th scientists and medical professionals perpetuated the long-lasting myth that Black women are hyper-fertile. This racist thinking not only negatively impacts the quality of reproductive care for Black women, but also keeps many from seeking and/or continuing treatment. The myth of Black hyperfertility has been largely internalized by the Black community and has led many to believe that fertility issues do not affect Black women, when in fact, they are twice as likely to suffer from infertility. This misconception has been found to create intense feelings of shame for those Black women struggling with fertility, preventing many families from seeking alternative paths to parenthood. Needless to say, infertility in Black women can become extremely isolating and emotionally painful. If this is your experience, know that you are not alone and that there are several support groups dedicated to Black women navigating infertility and seeking treatment.
Reproductive Health Awareness
The lack of discussion and misinformation surrounding Black infertility has left many Black women unaware of the contributing factors of infertility. Additionally, many Black women have had experiences that have resulted in a distrust of the medical system, further distancing them from necessary care and information. Studies have shown that Black women seek treatment later than white women, and are disproportionately affected by medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and uterine fibroids–all of which can reduce the chances of pregnancy even after fertility treatment. To help women feel more empowered talking to their providers, and recognizing symptoms and risk factors for infertility, here are some resources:
Given the prevalence of misconceptions and the dearth of information surrounding Black fertility, it is imperative that Black women remain educated on their reproductive health and have greater access to the care they need. While the resources discussed are a great source of support, mindful and socially aware providers are crucial to advancing reproductive care for Black women. Starting a family is a right, not a privilege, and our staff at Egg Donor America is committed to providing quality care for all families. Contact us today to learn how we can help you create the family of your dreams.