Navigating infertility can be an emotional roller coaster. New and expectant moms manage endless doctor’s appointments and endure being poked and prodded with needles. There’s also the financial stress and the uncertainty of not knowing if or when you might get pregnant. 

Research shows that Black women also have higher rates of infertility than their white counterparts (7.2% compared to 5.5%, respectively). Diona N. Murray, founder and president, Barren Fruit®, explained that realistically the numbers for infertility in the Black community are far greater. 

“Few people are studying infertility, and Black women are often not included in the research,” Murray said. “Not everyone that is infertile even considers themselves to be or is properly educated.” 

In her research, Murray found that there are many reasons for the high numbers of infertility amongst Black women, most of which stem from bias and racism. Some factors include a lack of research, a lack of Black voices being heard, and a shortage of competent, empathetic doctors. There is also a lack of education and support around women’s fertility. This can lead to misdiagnosis of infertility and cause conditions like fibroids, endometriosis, and PCOS. 

“As a society, we have normalized the pain of Black women and haven’t cared enough to consider that our quality of life has diminished,” she added. “Our fertility is slowly being robbed of us.”

Having a community to lean on during the infertility journey is important to provide practical support, advice, and a shoulder to lean on.

Emotions While Navigating Infertility 

Murray explained that although emotions will vary from woman to woman, the common thread is a sense of inadequacy, emptiness, loneliness, and depression. A woman might feel like she cannot do what her body was created to do. It might feel like everyone around her is creating and living life. Other people’s celebrations might be a constant reminder of a child that she might never have.

“If you don’t have anybody to talk to and are in a constant cycle of grief when you get your period, it can feel especially dark,” she explained.  

Murray shared that she experienced five years of infertility and approximately 20 years of battling endometriosis, fibroids, and cysts. During the darkness of her own infertility journey, Murray created Barren Fruit to help other people counter those feelings. The nonprofit seeks to uplift, ignite joy, and connect people to the right resources.

The Impact on a Woman’s Overall Health  

If you are suffering from infertility due to a condition or illness, then you might also deal with chronic pain and heavy bleeding. You might have difficulty living your life, going to work, or even getting out of bed.

If not careful, Murray explained that a physical state of barrenness can plague a woman mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. A woman who is navigating infertility might feel stuck, hopeless, or distressed. Hence, why bareness can impact your overall health and well-being. 

“If we think in our mind that we are inadequate or our mental state is also barren, then we start to lack motivation,” she explained. “We miss out on the positive because we are concentrating on what is missing.”

Practical Ways to Show Support

There isn’t really anything that can be said or done to magically ease the pain of infertility. The most important thing to do to support a loved one navigating infertility, is to simply show up for them.

“Too often, people stay away when people are grieving infertility because they don’t know what to do or say,” Murray said. “Being present and offering your support goes a long way.”

To help, Murray suggested checking on them, praying for them, helping them find the right doctor or care team, advocating with them, and offering a listening ear. 

“You can’t take the grief away, but you can help create a safe space for her and help educate others on just minding their business,” Murray added. 

Friends and family of loved ones navigating infertility should focus on support and advocacy. Murray suggested getting them around an uplifting community that can help counter negative thoughts. Therapy is also an important tool for our mental health during this time. 

“Make sure they are getting proper care,” she said. “Also, consider simply asking them, ‘How can I help?’ or ‘What do you need from me at this moment?’”