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Infertility – unique challenges for women of color

Infertility is many things – unexpected, dream-shattering, overwhelming, heartbreaking – the list goes on and on. But at its core, infertility is a disease of the reproductive system that impairs the body’s ability to perform the basic function of reproduction. It also does not discriminate.

Yet enduring infertility as a woman of color is different. Why? As Regina Townsend recently wrote it’s “because no one expects a black woman to have trouble conceiving — not even other black women.”

For those that find themselves dealing with infertility, both medical and cultural issues play a role.

In a recent article by Tanzina Vega in the New York Times, Dr. David Seifer, co-director of GENESIS Fertility and Reproductive Medicine said fibroids were just one of various “cultural issues, biological issues and social issues” black women face that can affect their fertility. He said black women often waited longer to seek a diagnosis of or treatment for infertility, which “gives all of these other biological factors more time to become more severe.”

OBGYN’s, it appears, are not talking to black women enough about their fertility, especially women who don’t have partners or are of low income. Often the conversations black women have with their gynecologists focus more on sexually transmitted diseases and birth control than on reproductive options.

Religious beliefs can also affect the way black women feel about their fertility – thinking it’s God’s will, or believing God has cursed them because they can’t have a child.

But times are changing! Click here to read how minority women are trying to raise awareness.