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Black and Infertile: How To Defeat the Silent Bully

It’s no secret that women across the US are experiencing infertility at an epic rate. It’s all around us in the media. There are more 2 income households than ever. Young women  who attend college are just as likely, if not more likely than young men, to obtain advanced professional degrees. Those professional degrees help women get high-profile and higher paying jobs. So at 24, many women are just starting their career. At 30, many  are entering middle management and suddenly they’re 40-55, married(maybe), senior management with the career of their dreams. However,  one accomplishment in life has eluded them; A baby! No problem for these super women, right? Wrong. The problem is that the human female body has not changed in millions of years and most women hit their fertile peak between the ages of 23-31. There are also economic ramifications.

This scenario manifests itself across racial spectrums. However, no group of women is negatively impacted by infertility more so than Black Women. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, married black women face infertility twice as often as married white women. However, 15% of white women ages 25-44 in the US have sought medical help to get pregnant vs. 8% of black women.
In a recent University of Michigan study published in the journal, Psychology of Women Quarterly: Silent and Infertile: An Intersectional Analysis of the Experiences of Socioeconomically Diverse African-American Women with Infertility. The chief investigator, Rosario Ceballo, uncovers the psychological, social and economic ramifications of infertility in Black Women. Researchers interviewed 50 African-American Women of different socioeconomic backgrounds regarding infertility and relationships with friends, relatives and doctors. The interviewees ranged in age from 21-52. Most were married and many of the women both had college degrees and worked full-time. All of the women met the clinical definition of infertility “a condition in which a woman is unable to conceive after 12 or more months of regular, unprotected sex”. The researchers noted that in describing the difficulty of getting pregnant, 32% of the women discussed stereotyped beliefs that equated being a “real woman” to motherhood. In response to their infertility, some felt that they were “not a complete woman” because they didn’t have a child. They believed that God intended women to have children, which exacerbated their sense of shame. Not only did they feel shame, but most of the women in the study confessed to keeping their situation a secret because, “in our culture, it’s not something that you share”. Throw in the fact that some of the respondents found that the cost of fertility was just was too costly. What you are now left with are women with fragile self-esteems.

So what do we do with this data? How do we begin to repair these fragile, broken self-esteems? Helen Stephens, Founder and CEO of Diversity Fertility Services, a Fertility Service Organization, the parent company of Oshun Fertility, a unique fertility services company that is specifically for people of African and Latino descent, recommends 5 major factors to consider when facing infertility:

  1. Know Yourself!” It is important to have a detailed understanding of your family’s medical history as factors contributing to infertility may be genetic, “explains Stephens, “Do not assume that aunts and cousins do not have children because they just didn’t want any. Have those difficult conversations and you may be surprised by what you uncover”.
  2. Forgive Yourself! Infertility is not your fault. Infertility is a disease state. Diagnosis and treatment should be aggressively sought after just as you would for any other disease.
  3. Have a Fertility Plan. Once diagnosed, it is important to discuss your specific factors with your Reproductive Endocrinologist and immediately begin to explore your options. Your fertility plan may be as simple as adopting an exercise and nutrition regiment. Some fertility plans may require utilizing Egg Donation, Surrogacy and even adoption. The process can be overwhelming, However,  A full-service fertility service agency like Diversity Fertility Services can assist you in developing a comprehensive plan which will help to guide you through the financial and medical process and optimize your chances of success.
  4. Love Yourself! As the aforementioned study indicates, psychological and emotional damage could be imminent when going through infertility. The practice of affirmation is helpful. Stephens says, “Look at yourself in the mirror every day, every chance you get and tell yourself that you’re beautiful! That you’re great! That you are awesome! That you are a woman! No matter what people may say, no matter what people may think. Tell yourself that you are a goddess, a priestess a queen! Whatever it takes to make you feel good about you.” Stephens also recommends at least 20 minutes of daily meditation and/or prayer. “Prayer is talking to God, but meditation is God talking to you”, added Stephens, “don’t go day without that important conversation.”
  5. Find Support. Talking with others experiencing the same situation can be liberating. There can be great comfort in knowing that others are going through  same thing. It’s even better when you can share and release your emotions through conversations with a captive audience whose only purpose at that moment is to support you. Helen Stephens strongly recommends seeking support through a licensed therapist or a support group: There are several organizations such as the Cade Foundation and Fertility for Colored Girls that are dedicated to providing healing to women and men of Color that have been affected by infertility. Blogs specific to infertility are also a great resource. Many of these blogs are written by women who have, themselves experienced infertility and are sharing through their blogs as a part of their own healing process. Some offer forums that allow you as an individual to share your experience with others and still remain anonymous. Blogs can be an easy and inexpensive way to release the frustration and find support for this intimidating disease state.

These factors are a great place to begin the healing process and ultimately defeat the silent bully called infertility. Learn more about the services that oshun Fertility offers, http://theroottv.theroot.com/video/Infertility-is-a-Disease-But-Th?wpisrc=burger

If you need more information about infertility, how to managed the disease and your options to overcome it, contact us at info@oshunfertility.com, or visit us http://www.oshunfertility.com

Featured post

It’s A Disease, Stupid!

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it. Does it make a sound? An even better question is if you have a disease and not even your closest relatives can’t witness your pain and suffering, do you really have a disease? For Millions of women, that answer is a resounding yes. Hard to believe that in 2017 we still haven’t accepted the fact that Infertility is a disease. The same way that Cancer, HIV, Alzheimer’s and Alcoholism are diseases, and the only way to manage the disease is through an effective treatment regimen, either from a board certified Infertility Specialist, or in some cases, a clean diet. Infertility is the ultimate Silent Disease, as it doesn’t present as some of the “better-known” diseases. However, the results can be no less,  devastating.

Recently, the talented actress, Gabrielle Union, made a courageous decision to reveal her struggles with Infertility. She recounted the day to day disappointments that she endured for more than 3 years, the heart-wrenching “8 or 9 miscarriages”, and the physical and emotional pain she experienced. Her story, as tragic as it may be, is not an unfamiliar one to many women who suffer from infertility. In Every corner of the globe, women go through similar hardships and are ostracized, shunned, and shamed for having a disease that disallows the joy and magic that is childbirth.  I read the replies to the tweet in response to  Gabrielle Union’s article and could not believe the attacks and uninformed advice that people were giving. “…Maybe God is trying to tell you something!” “…Everyone isn’t meant to have children.” “…Why don’t you just adopt, there’s plenty of kids that need a good home.” and my favorite, “…Stop trying, just let it happen!”  Have we, as a society, gone to that dark place that enables a dearth of compassion and empathy for those who are afflicted with a dreaded disease? Can you imagine if it was socially acceptable to berate someone who was diagnosed with Cancer? “…Maybe it’s God’s will for you to have Cancer.” “…Youre too old to have breast anyway” “…Why don’t you just be happy that you’re alive!” These responses are highly inappropriate and anyone who would publically state anything remotely close to the aforementioned comments on any platform, including comedy and satire,  would be condemned in the court of public opinion and the consensus would be that the person, “went too far”. Even the “non-tradtional” diseases like Alcoholism and drug addiction, are considered menaces to our society and millions of dollars are pumped into public relations, research, and resources to bring awareness and aid in the management and eradication of the disease. Yet for infertility, there is a general sense of apathy and non-concern. The World Health Organization has gone on-record, establishing Infertility as a public health issue. The CDC asserts that infertility is one of the fastest growing triggers of Depression in Women. So what’s with the apathetic attitude toward infertility? I simply can not tell you. I literally dont know. However, I can share some information and try to bring a little awareness.

4 Things Everyone should know About Infertility:

  1. Infertility is defined as the inability to become pregnant after a minimum of  1 year of unprotected, “regular” sex.
  2. Infertility is NOT always the woman’s fault. In about 35% of couples suffering from infertility, a male factor is identified along with the female factor. In about 8% of couples suffering from infertility, a male factor is the only identifiable case.
  3. Women need functioning ovaries, fallopian tubes, and a uterus to get pregnant.  Any condition affecting any one of these organs can contribute to female infertility. Fibroids, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome(PCOS) and Endometriosis are just a common few.
  4. A woman’s fertility is known to decline due to several factors.
    • Age. 20% of women in the US decide to have their first child after the age of 35.
    • Smoking
    • Excessive Alcohol use
    • Extreme weight gain or loss
    • Excessive physical or emotional stress that results in amenorrhea(absent periods)

There it is. I encourage you to do your own independent research. Learn how to empathize with someone who suffers from this debilitating disease.  Count your blessings if you’ve been fortunate to have children and If you have read this and cant understand, know this….IT’S A DISEASE, STUPID!

For more information about options to overcome Infertility, visit us at http://www.oshunfertility.com

 

Continue reading “It’s A Disease, Stupid!”

For Many, Age Is More Than a Number

I begin my Sunday mornings the same way for the past 30 years. Shuffling my way to the kitchen, brewing a pot of coffee and reading my favorite newspaper. Yes, I said newspaper. One of my favorite sections of that paper, besides the Business and Travel sections, is the Sunday Styles section and my favorite pastime for 30 years is perusing through the engagement and nuptial announcements. I love people and I love to see people happy and fulfilling their dreams, it is the impetus that drove me to the business that I currently own, and marriage is the epitome of that. I enjoy reading how the couples met, where they went to undergrad/grad school, what they do for a living, what their parents do for a living, where they plan to go for their honeymoon and where they will eventually call home. Reading thousands of these announcements over a 30-year period has taught me a great deal about human behavior. However, what really resonates with me is how diverse the couples have become within that 30-year period. Sure, I’ve observed more ethnically mixed couples, couples of Asian and African descent and with the onset of new federal laws here in the US, an increase in LGBT couples getting married. However, what has intrigued me the most is the average age of many of the couples that are beginning their new life together.

Now, more than ever, people are deciding to marry for the first time in their late 20’s to early 30’s. According to the US Census, in 2015, the median age at first marriage, has been the oldest since 1890. Age 27 for women and 29 for men. There could be many reasons for this staggering statistic, however, I believe that the leading cause is the pursuit of professional degrees and the advancement of their respective careers, especially among women. National Center for Education Statistics indicates that women’s attainment of Masters degrees has increased from 60%(1999-2000) to 62.6%(2009-2010) and Doctorate degrees with women have increased 47%(1999-2000) to 53.3%(2009-2010). This renewed focus on professional development, in addition to many industry’s desire to be more inclusive of women, has led to a decline in younger marriages and ultimately, the decline in younger families. It certainly has affected the 3rd Party Reproductive industry, an industry where I have ran my own organization for 7 years. Infertility has run rampant among these couples, primarily because age is an inevitable risk factor. As the CEO of DIVERSITY FERTILITY SERVICES, LLC, a Fertility Services Organization with 2 companies, Diversity Fertility and Oshun Fertility, that focuses on recruiting and matching Egg Donors and Surrogate Mothers for intended parents who cannot conceive via traditional means, as well as helping intended parent explore all of their reproductive options, I have lived with these statistics, and the people behind the numbers are very real. I have noticed that my clients have delayed their aspirations for family building on average of 5-10 years after marriage which means that many of my clients are staring down the barrel of 40 before they even begin the process. Couple that with the fact that many of my clients have been trying for multiple years before they get to me and what you have are individuals that are extremely frustrated with family building. It is unlikely that these statistics will precipitously drop in the very near future. So the solution for this epidemic is in, what I like to call, “The 3 Knows”.

KNOW YOUR FAMILY MEDICAL HISTORY

While it is believed that male factor infertility is not generally hereditary. There are genetic causes of female infertility. It is extremely important to have “courageous conversations” with family members to understand what you may be up against. Conversations with the women in your family who have had problems conceiving may uncover concerns, such as, premature menopause, endometriosis, Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome, etc. and you may be at increased risk of the same problems. Upon learning of any problems, you should immediately see your OBGYN or a Reproductive Endocrinologist (Fertility Specialist).

KNOW YOUR MIND, BODY AND SPIRIT

Preventive Reproductive health measures are key. Controlling the controllable like diet, smoking and alcohol intake are a great start on the road to solid reproductive health. While, most people realize this, they often neglect taking care of the mind through meditation and positive thinking, and addressing the needs of our spirituality. Devoting oneself to strengthen all three will go a long way in preserving your reproductive health.

KNOW YOUR OPTIONS

It’s been my experience that clients who fully understand their options after being diagnosed with infertility tend to have less anxiety. Research and due diligence are always helpful. Also professional resources like Reproductive Endocrinologists and Organizations like mine, DIVERSITY FERTILITY SERVICES, can provide great information to help prepare you for what you need to know.

We’ve come a long way in our society when it comes to the roles of men and women in the household. My daughter and son are living in an era where possibilities are boundless for both genders. As the pursuit of happiness seems tied directly to the attainment of professional degrees and climbing the career ladder, we mustn’t lose sight of preserving our reproductive health.

For More information about understanding all of your reproductive options, please contact us at info@oshunfertility.com

This Season, Give The Gift Of Holiday Cheer: A Special Holiday Post

Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more irritating to a couple experiencing infertility than the obligatory April Fool’s joke that someone is pregnant(See article featuring Oshun Fertility President, Helen Stephens http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/april-fools-day-pregnancy-jokes-funny-women-struggling/story?id=38085191). Except, of course, when at the family dinner during the holidays, your mother looks at you and says…”So when am I going to be a Grandmother?”

This question and others very similar, will be asked in thousands of homes this holiday season and the answers are basically the same. “In due time”, “We’re working on it”, and the famous quickie answer, “Soon.” These questions are tough and really place people in vulnerable positions. Its time our society starts acknowledging that Infertility is a disease. No, it won’t leave you with long hospital stints, and its not fatal like other diseases, but that doesn’t dismiss its devastating effects. What most people don’t witness are the nights of tears and depression, the constant visits to the doctor, only to hear the inevitable bad news of a failed pregnancy,  the numerous injections and in many cases, the irreparable damage to their marriage and relationships. The pain, the agony, the tears, and the feelings of hopelessness. All precipitously fall like a great storm and with no  medicine to make you feel better. Just as we should never ask someone we love, suffering with Alzheimer’s, when are they going to start remembering things again. We should never asked someone we care about, “When are you going to have a baby?” Especially if we’re not sure there may be associated medical reasons.

As much as many of us look forward to the holiday season, there are quite a few who loathe this time of year, so let’s really show some holiday cheer and stay away from the topic completely, unless that person brings it up. In the event that it does come up, simply show empathy and let them know that you will be there for them in any way they need you. You may find that’s the best gift you can give this holiday season.

For more information on how to begin building your family this holiday season. Contact us at info@oshunfertility.com, call us at 1-866-276-8809, or visit us at OshunFertility.com

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