By Daunte Henderson, blackdoctor.org
Some couples have tried and tried to welcome a baby into the world, but it just won’t happen for some reason. Countless doctor visits, diet changes, prayer sessions and everything else under the sun have been used in attempt to get pregnant to no avail. The stress and self-doubt of being infertile can take a toll on the couple as a whole and individually.
Fertility for Colored Girls was founded in March 2013 to provide education, awareness, support and encouragement to African American Women/Couples struggling with infertility and seeking to build the families of their dreams. Reverend Dr. Stacey L. Edwards-Dunn founded the organization because of her struggles with infertility. She encountered many black women/couples who were experiencing fertility challenges as well. Fertility for Colored Girls currently is located in five states where they offer monthly support groups: Chicago, Richmond, VA, DC, Atlanta and Detroit, MI. A group will launch in Memphis, TN on September 24, 2016.
Reverend Dr. Stacey L. Edwards-Dunn spoke to BlackDoctor.org about the challenges Black women face with fertility. A problem that she says no one wants to talk about.
“Infertility among African American women is not only a silent and hidden problem in the African American community, but one that continues to be on the rise. Matter of fact, many Black women live in shame because we don’t discuss issues of infertility in the Black community. Black women are considered baby-making machines and hyper-fertile; not infertile.”
According to Dr. Desiree McCarthy-Keith, a reproductive endocrinologist at Georgia Reproductive Specialists, research shows that among the 7.3 million women in the United States, approximately 11.5% of African American women experience a variety of infertility problems compared to 7% of white women.
Reverend Dr. Edwards-Dunn says that Black women don’t seek out help in spite of the alarming statistics surrounding this issues that affects a large number of our women.
There are many reasons why African-American women fail to seek out infertility care. The following are a few examples of the challenges Black women face with fertility:
- Cost of infertility services
- Access to infertility services
- Lack of education and awareness
- Shame and fear
- Lack of health care
- Lack of support
In addition to lack of education and awareness, one of the leading causes of infertility among African American women is uterine fibroids. Many Black women struggle with the pain and distress of uterine fibroids, which sometimes leads them to the road of obtaining infertility services and often times seeking out procedures such as hysterectomies.
Dr. Seun Sowemimo is an obesity expert as well as a board certified bariatric and general surgeon. Dr. Sowemimo believes the many cases of infertility stem from obesity, an issues that affects 4 out of 5 African American women.
“At a certain weight your reproductive cycles will not work optimally. When you’re obese it can cause infertility. Obesity affects the body’s ability to menstruate. This can lead to polycystic ovary syndrome,” explained Dr. Sowemimo.
For couples and Black women in particular, Reverend Edwards-Dunn offers the following five tips to increase fertility:
- Be Proactive/Assertive: Get a comprehensive fertility examination to learn your fertility stastus. Know what questions to ask and understand your options. If you’re in your 20’s-30’s start inquiring now about how to prepare your body.
- Adopt a healthy diet. Eating a nutritional, fertility-boosting diet will help you build a strong foundation. No caffeine, no alcohol/drugs, cut out foods filled with preservatives, lots of whole grains, fruits and veggies, no fried foods and little sugar.
- Exercise/Weight Control
- Reduce Stress
- Timing of intercourse (for some)
Fertility for Colored Girls provides a comprehensive set of services including educational programs, monthly support groups, counseling and their Hope It Forward Program, where they work with women/couples to donate unopened/unexpired medication to doctors offices for women/couples who we come in contact with who can’t afford the medications.
Their Gift of Hope Award: Family Building Fund provides up to $10,000 to give away at their annual fundraiser each year. Contact Fertility for Colored Girls about their upcoming fundraiser on August 6, 2016.