The Truth Behind the Question of Fertility

05/17/2017 10:31 am ET Updated May 17, 2017

LaChelle Weaver, Pitch PerfectCourse Graduate

Asking a woman when she’s going to have children, especially when she’s reached a particular age, may seem as natural a question as its predecessor, regarding marriage, if a woman is single, but the truth for many women is that the answer is not always a simple one when it comes to the topic of having children. For some women, it’s a life choice, and for their own personal reasons they’ve decided not to have children, but for others who have the desire, it’s not always a choice, and getting pregnant or carrying a baby to full term can become difficult.

Infertility, which is the inability to conceive or carry a child to full term, affects approximately 12 percent of women in the U.S. Black women are twice as likely to struggle with infertility, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; despite misconceptions and stereotypes that we’re more fertile than our counterparts. It’s a topic within the African American community that is not often discussed, due to feelings of shame and inadequacy, that some women attribute to not being able to accomplish the one thing that society says makes us women; motherhood. Many black women suffer in silence from the stigma that they associate with infertility, and are less likely to seek medical help or delay it, but infertility doesn’t have to be silenced. Infertility can be a temporary issue, and doesn’t always mean the end to dreams of motherhood.

There are various reasons that can affect our fertility such as age, weight, and medical history, which is why it’s so important to seek the advice of a medical professional. I’ve listed a few causes that often compromise our fertility:

Uterine Fibroids are benign tumors that develop in the uterus, and a common reason for hysterectomies (the removal of the uterus) in black women. According to a study in the Journal of Women’s Health, “The Burden of Uterine Fibroids for African American Women: Results of a National Survey”, black women are disproportionately impacted by fibroids.

Endometriosis is an abnormal growth of cells outside the uterus that can affect other reproductive organs, and has been cited as the leading cause of infertility in black women.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (POC) causes hormonal imbalances and cysts in the ovaries, and affects one in ten women of childbearing age.

Gynecological Cancers such as cervical cancer, which is the leading cause of death in black women, can have a great impact on our fertility, especially if it’s diagnosed at an advanced stage. A radical hysterectomy, which involves the removal of the uterus and cervix, is often a standard form of treatment along with radiation and chemotherapy.

Although infertility can be a difficult and an uncomfortable topic to discuss for black women, we can help dispel the myths and stereotypes within our community and beyond, by opening much-needed dialogue, and ridding the stigma associated with it. There are various options of treatment for us that can include surgery, fertility drugs, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and surrogacy, that are not just exclusive to our counterparts. It’s advisable to always seek the best option for you.

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LaChelle Weaver is a twice bestselling and award-nominated author of Brown Girls Books’, The Dating Game anthology and debut novel, Sister Surrogate, which deals with issues of cervical cancer, infertility, and surrogacy. For more information and to stay connected, visit LaChelle at www.lachelleweaverwrites.com.

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