Confronting the stigma of infertility in African-American women

CHICAGO — While it may not be discussed often, infertility among African-American women is a serious issue.

Research shows that African-American women actually have a tougher time conceiving than white women. WGN also found that African-American women often suffer in silence, which makes the situation even worse.

Dr. Desiree McCarthy-Keith is one of the few African-American reproductive endocrinologists in the country.

“African-American women are more likely to have infertility, especially of certain kinds than women of other ethnic groups,” she said.

Many of the issues facing African-American women are medical, such as uterine fibroids, blocked fallopian tubes, obesity and advanced age, specifically women over 35.

McCarthy-Keith said that because African-American women tend to wait longer to seek fertility treatment, age becomes an even bigger factor.

But by far the biggest issue is secrecy. Rev. Dr. Stacey Edwards-Dunn is the founder of the support group “Fertility for Colored Girls.”

She has found African-American women “don’t talk about it because there’s a lot of shame, there’s a lot of fear, there’s a lot of stigma that is connected to struggling with infertility.”

She has also written a book about it called “Hold On To Hope, Stories of Black Women’s Fertility, Faith and Fight to Become Mommies.”

Edwards-Dunn and McCarthy-Keith encourage all women, not just African-American women, to think about their fertility.

They say it’s never too early talk to a doctor about your options.

For more information, check out the following links:

Fertility for Colored Girls –  fertilityforcoloredgirls.org
Dr. Desiree McCarthy-Keith – www.shadygrovefertility.com
Broken Brown Egg – thebrokenbrownegg.org