FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
The female reproductive system is a sensitive, yet strong system that consists of the ovaries, vagina cervix, uterus, and the Fallopian tubes. This set of organs contributes to the reproduction process, specifically pregnancy and ovulation.
Additionally, the reproduction system, plays a role in balancing the production and interaction of hormones. Fertility is contingent upon a healthy and well balanced reproductive system. Therefore, it is important that women seek to be intentional about ensuring that they not only take the time to participate in regular checkups and preventative health care, but they also take the time to be informed about their bodies and what is necessary to ensure that one is able to produce a family.
AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN & INFERTILITY
Infertility among African American women is not only a silent and hidden problem in the African American Community, but one that continues to be on the rise.
According to Dr. Desiree McCarthy-Keith, a Reproductive Endocrinologist at Georgia Reproductive Specialists, research shows that among the 7.3 million women in the United States, approximately 11.5% of African American women experience a variety of infertility problems compared to 7% of white women.
Unfortunately, even though these alarming rates of infertility among African American women exist, studies show that women kissed by nature's sun utilize fertility services less often and seek medical care too late.
There are many reasons why African- American women fail to seek out infertility care. The following are few examples:
- Cost of Infertility Services
- Access to Infertility Services
- Lack of Education and Awareness
- Shame and Fear
- Lack of Health Care
- Lack of Support
In addition to lack of education and awareness, one of the leading causes of infertility among African American women is uterine fibroids. Many black women struggle with the pain and distress of uterine fibroids, which sometimes leads them to the road of obtaining infertility services and often times seeking out procedures such as hysterectomies and others as well
Awareness, Advocacy and Education is essential to combating the issue of infertility among African American Women. In other words, Information is power; thus, it is the key to life and hope for African American women, COLORED GIRLS, to overcome infertility and live.
A female is diagnosed as infertile after trying to get pregnant after more than one year with no success, or having multiple miscarriages. There are different types of Infertility:
1. Primary Infertility: Inability to get pregnant after one year of unprotected sex
2. Secondary Infertility: When one has previously had children, but no success getting pregnant again.
3. Unexplained Infertility: Doctors have been unable to identify a reason as to why one can't get pregnant
4. Male Factor: There is a problem with able reproductive system, i.e. sperm count, motility, shape and/or concentration.
Infertility usually occurs when there are disturbances and/or disease within the reproductive system. There are a number of factors that contribute to female infertility or challenges in becoming pregnant such as fibroids, hormonal imbalance, uterine factors, ovulatory disorders, STI's, age endometriosis, STI's, POS, closed fallopian tubes, the immune system, recurrent pregnancy loss, stress and more. If you are considering getting pregnant, you can improve your chances by living a healthier lifestyle such as a healthy diet, reducing stress, alcohol and caffeine intake as well as pro-actively speaking with your doctor about comprehensive medical assessment. For those, experiencing Infertility, connect with your gynecologist and a reproductive endocrinologist to gain information on comprehensive assessments and alternatives. Both partners should be tested as for men account for approximately 50% of infertility issues.
African American women are no stranger to miscarriages.
A miscarriage is defined as a pregnancy that ends before the 20th week. Miscarriages, the most common type of pregnancy loss, usually occur in the first trimester often because of various reasons such as the fetus is not developing properly, chromosome abnormality, hormonal problems, infections, lifestyle (smoking, diet, excessive caffeine), pollution, maternal age, maternal trauma, stress and more. There are many types of miscarriages such as blighted ovum, pre-term delivery from cervical insufficiency, second-trimester miscarriage, molar pregnancy, missed miscarriage, first-trimester miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and chemical pregnancy.
Regardless of the type, miscarriages leave women with many unanswered questions regarding their emotional recovery and trying to conceive again. It can take many days, weeks and sometimes months for a woman to recover and heal as miscarriages are emotionally difficult situations.
FIBROIDS AND AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN
Fibroids are very common in African American Women. One study shows that fibroids are three times more common in African American Women than in white women. Fibroids are growths that develop on the smooth muscle layer of the the uterus. There are many signs and symptoms of fibroids such as abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain and pressure, painful and abnormal menstrual cycles , pain during or after sexual intercourse and more. There are many treatments for fibroids such as Birth Control Pills, Anti-inflammatory medications, Lupron, Ablation, Uterine Artery Embolization, Myomectomy and Hysterectomy. Individuals suspecting they might have fibroids or seeking treatment options should not put it off, but have further detailed discussion with your doctor who will help you decide what treatment is best for you.