When it comes to infertility in women, race matters.
African-American women are more likely to experience fertility problems compared to white women (11.5 percent vs. 7 percent), but are also less likely to seek help for their infertility, according to a release by Georgia Reproductive Specialists (GRS). Fertility experts say these racial differences are partly explained by missing efforts to reach infertile women of color.
"In the past, there was a lack of attention toward the problem of infertility in minority women, and most marketing campaigns of infertility awareness and treatment were not directed towards us. This resulted in a lack of awareness about infertility as a disease and about avenues for seeking evaluation and treatment," says Dr. Desiree McCarthy-Keith, a reproductive endocrinologist at GRS who specializes in uterine fibroids.
What's to blame? According to Dr. McCarthy-Keith, African-American women develop uterine fibroids at a younger age than white women and the incidence of fibroids is higher in African-American women at every age, compared to white women—by the end of their reproductive years, as many as 80 percent of African-American women have uterine fibroids.
Fibroids are non-cancerous growths of connective tissue that some women develop in and on the uterus. Ranging in size from microscopic to the size of a grapefruit, it is unclear exactly how fibroids affect fertility. Many women with fibroids are able to conceive without problem and go on to have completely normal and healthy pregnancies. However, finds Dr. McCarthy-Keith, "black women are disproportionately affected by uterine fibroids and uterine fibroids are a common diagnosis among black women undergoing infertility treatment."
The good news is that monitoring and treating fibroids is more efficient and effective than ever before. Have you talked to your doctor about fibroids?