With the arrival of Thanksgiving, married and childless Black women all over prepare to be asked the question: When are you going to have kids? (usually asked by ignorant and rude people).
It is difficult being asked such an insensitive question and finding the appropriate response, especially for women who are trying to conceive but are struggling with infertility. Research shows that approximately 11.5% of African-American women experience infertility compared to 7% of white women. It is a real issue that needs to addressed. Gabrielle Union is one of the few Black female actresses to publicly discuss the issue of infertility:
Nobody wants the world, which is what it feels like – the world – to think you're defective, or less than a perfect woman or less than capable. There's so much shame and mystery and guilt that surrounds fertility issues."
Photo: Gabrielle Union
Recently, Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade welcomed their new baby girl. In an interview at the Blog Her Creators Summit, Union explained her infertility journey. She has endured multiple miscarriages and failed attempts at In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Union believes that adenomyosis is the cause of her infertility. Adenomyosis, similar to endometriosis, causes pain and heavy bleeding during menstrual cycles, as well as fibroids. Uterine fibroids are another cause of infertility, and according to research, black women are three times more likely to develop fibroids.
With so many negative reproductive health probabilities, what is the solution to infertility among Black women? How do women remain hopeful that they will one day birth the child they always dreamed of having?
It first begins with acknowledging that you are not alone on this journey. There is a community of women who struggle with infertility, and the non-profit organization Fertility for Black Girls, hosts private support groups in certain cities. It is important to find a tribe of women who can relate to the challenges you face and who can uplift you in times of despair. According to a study by the Black Women's Health Imperative, 96% of Black women feel isolated or silenced while trying to conceive. Do not suffer in silence, but be willing and open to disclose your hardships with people you trust.
Encourage yourself! Do not allow yourself to feel as though the decisions you made in life to better yourself and to further your career are what resulted in your infertility. Putting yourself and your career first, and deciding when would be most suitable for you to have children is not selfish — it is wise. Infertility is not some sort of infliction caused due to the life decisions you have made. Although a battle, infertility is not a permanent curse. It can be fought. Keep fighting, keep believing, and keep praying.
It is also important that you know your options. There are many treatments that can assist you in conceiving, such as IVF. Have a discussion with your medical provider about the best option for you.
Photo: Gabrielle Union
Gabrielle Union is proof that the trials of infertility can be defeated, and it is such a lovely thing. It is so fitting that underneath the photo Gabrielle posted on her Instagram of her new baby girl, she used the lyrics of Lovely Day by Bill Withers because it is true: when one of your desires is fulfilled, such as the desire to have children of your own, love bears heavy on your mind.
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