April 29, 2014 — Minority women are less likely to seek help for infertility, despite statistics that show married African-American women face infertility issues more often than married white women, the New York Times reports.
According to the Times, women who have sought fertility services tend to be married, older and white, with higher education and income levels. Specifically, 15% of white women ages 25 through 44 in the U.S. have sought fertility services, compared with 7.6% of Hispanic women and 8% of African-American women, according to data from HHS and CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.
Meanwhile, NCHS' National Survey of Family Growth for 2006 to 2010 found that married African-American women faced infertility issues nearly two times more often than married white women.
According to experts and observers, reasons for the disparities in seeking care include treatment costs and biological and cultural differences.
For example, Heather Lawson, a 42-year-old lawyer who shared her struggles with infertility with the Times and explains how the fact that she is black has affected her experience, said, "In families of color, there's an assumption that when you want to get pregnant, you get pregnant," adding, "There's a lot of finger-pointing that women of color feel when we've gotten to a certain age and we haven't had children." Lawson, who conceived at 40 but miscarried, noted that she is often the only minority woman at the infertility clinic when she goes to her appointments.
The Rev. Stacey Edwards-Dunn, founder and president of Fertility for Colored Girls, said religious beliefs can also influence how African-American women view infertility, explaining, "They believe God has cursed them because they can't have a child."
Columbia University Medical Center assistant professor of reproductive endocrinology and infertility Nataki Douglas said that physicians rarely discuss "reproductive options" with minority women, especially if they are unmarried and have low incomes. Instead, Douglas said conversations usually focus on sexually transmitted infections and contraceptives (Vega, New York Times, 4/25).