Marsai Martin is hoping to spark change in the world of reproductive health after a recent health scare. The “Black-ish” alum detailed her experience with an ovarian cyst to Women’s Health Magazine. She decided to have the grapefruit-sized, cyst removed when she was 18 years old. Martin’s surgery was four years after her cyst was first diagnosed.

At the time of the diagnosis, Martin says she was told her ovarian cyst would likely be absorbed, dissolve, or resolve itself. However, it did not. Instead the cyst resulted in painful periods for the young actress.

“Every month, on the first day of my cycle, I would have excruciating pain and nausea. It affected my work, my social life—everything. I was so sick, I couldn’t leave the house. This usually lasted for a few days,” Martin told Women’s Health Magazine.

Even though Martin researched information about ovarian cysts, she found little to no results on her symptoms.

“I was scared after receiving my diagnosis. As a young Black woman, I wanted to hear from women who looked like me that I was going to be okay,” she said in the interview.

Black Women And Reproductive Health

Martin’s actions showed, Black women should not be the only ones supporting each other when it comes to their health. The state of Black women’s bodies has been neglected for far too long.

“Reproductive oppression against Black women is rooted in the U.S. history of commodification of Black women’s bodies, sexuality, and reproductive lives,” according to a study from the University of Chicago.

Since the beginning of slavery, there has been a cycle of Black women’s’ bodies being treated as a political playground. Their reproductive rights are typically abandoned.

Martin is not the only woman speaking out against the lack of representation relating to Black Women’s health.

A Unique Plight

Tianna Trinindad, described as a Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Hormone Coach, said on her TikTok the medical field lacks diversity especially when it comes to PCOS healing.

“Women of color are not represented in the medical textbooks. This creates a culture of medical health professionals who don’t understand the unique plight and struggle of women of color dealing with PCOS,” Trinidad said.

After surgery, Martin said her menstrual cycles do not compare to the excruciating pain she dealt with before removing the cyst. Martin says she is delighted to share her story and wants others to continue to speak up until they are taken seriously.