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Trying to Conceive?

The Little Known Fact Every Black Woman Needs to Know
by Fertility Expert J. Kendall Smalls

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If you’ve been trying to conceive, there’s some important information you need to know. Our renowned fertility expert reveals the secret truth that every Black woman needs to know. 
Trying to conceive… 

 

 

 


      


Trying to Conceive

The Little Known Fact Every Black Woman Needs to Know

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by Fertility Expert
J. Kendall Smalls

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Throughout our country, good medical care access varies according to region and social standing. This disparity occurs in spite of wide varieties and standard forms of medical insurance coverage to diverse groups of people and in spite of the presence in many areas (i.e., inner cities), of large medical centers that offer a variety of medical services. Part of the reason for the inability of the medical system to deliver high quality care to everyone is the lack of accessibility in some communities of good information regarding the scope of medical services that are available. Nowhere is this truer than in the case of treatment to combat infertility. There are many spoken and unspoken myths in regard to African Americans and infertility. One prevalent spoken myth revolves around the African American not having a problem with infertility; the unspoken premise is that if a problem does exist, it is never acknowledged.

A
rare occurrence for our IVF treatment program is the visit by an
African American couple. Most are employees of the Saint Barnabas
health care system, and the remainder of couples are generally referred
by a physician associated with the hospital. This referral pattern is
unusual because we are a tertiary care center that specializes in the
treatment of difficult cases. Our other patients come to IRMS in a
variety of ways; more than a third of our patients come to us from
other states or countries, many are self-referred, and others are
referred by physicians, family, or friends in other locals. The small
percentage of African American patients that we see in our program,
coupled with the fact that those that we do see are largely “in-house”
referrals leads me to believe that we as a people are unaware of the
resources that are available for individuals that are having difficulty
achieving pregnancy. Several research studies conducted have reached
the same conclusion.

There
are not many African Americans who are known for their involvement in
the area of pregnancy assistance via in vitro fertilization. The number
of African American Reproductive Endocrinologist is pretty low compared
to their Caucasian counterparts. In fact, because of the traditional
and totally incorrect stereotype of “the hyper-fertile African American
who is perceived as impervious to fertilization issues,” the only
recognition that our race gets tends to be when there are anomalies
and/or freak mishaps in this area. This is an unfortunate tragedy and
one that influences the apprehension of our people to speak out about
this problem amongst us. African Americans perceive themselves in a
certain light – not impervious, but definitely not infallible. We try
not to exhibit chinks in our collective armor; we’re taught to be
mindful of displaying certain emotions in public lest we be perceived
in a weaker light. With this in mind, the uninformed equate infertility
with weakness, making it difficult to come to terms with the medical
facts of infertility.

 

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In fact, because of the traditional and totally incorrect stereotype of “the hyper-fertile African American who is perceived as impervious to fertilization issues,” the only recognition that our race gets tends to be when there are anomalies and/or freak mishaps in this area.


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The prevalent perception is that infertility is a “female” problem—of course, this is not completely accurate. Some of the more unfortunate sentiments my male patients have communicated range from blaming the female partner—“It must be her fault because I already have kids”—to all out denial: “It can’t be my problem, I’m completely healthy.” 40 percent of all infertility cases involve male-based problems. Men are eager to project the problem upon the woman because she is the one who carries the baby. We need to acknowledge that this is a problem for both parties. More importantly, we also need to acknowledge that even if the female partner is primarily affected, the solution will involve both partners—both physically and emotionally.

Advanced
medical treatment is available for those who can afford it, because it
can be an expensive endeavor. This is one of the biggest obstacles
faced by a couple searching to start a family. There is hope, however,
as New Jersey, as well as a growing number of states, now provide
mandated infertility treatment coverage. The highest levels of
infertility treatment coverage are now accessible to millions of
couples. In many cases, a visit to an infertility specialist – a
Reproductive Endocrinologist – opens up a whole new set of treatment
options, as well as some real hope.

Infertility
is a problem that is not well addressed amongst African-Americans.
There are numerous support groups that provide inspiration to infertile
couples. These support groups are extremely helpful in providing
information on a range of family-building topics, including ways to
support the cost of medical procedures. There is not a high level of
participation in these groups by African Americans. To my knowledge,
there is no group dedicated to the support of infertile African
Americans. Now, there could be many reasons why we don’t have or
participate in support groups but one reason I won’t believe is that we
don’t have an infertility problem. Everyone knows someone who is
attempting to have a baby or who is having a problem with conceiving
and I don’t believe we know which way to point them to get the right
kind of care. If I’m approached by Women (professionals, Greek-Letter
Organization members and the like) who ask questions about infertility
they will often tell me about their general practitioner who has been
their OB/GYN since early childhood. This general practitioner will
often tell them that IVF is extremely expensive; why not try an
Intra-Uterine Insemination (“I.U.I.”) procedure that is more
cost-effective (approximately $300 – $400) and can be done in the
gynecologist’s office. What they may not be telling their patient is
that the success rate of this procedure is less than 20% per pregnancy
cycle and sometimes much less. What then happens while a six to twelve
month period passes without success and mounting costs (upwards of
$2,000) is all too predictable: discouragement and the acceptance of
what they believe is a hopeless situation. In this all-too-common
scenario, the patients may never be aware of a myriad of advanced
procedures that may help them in their effort to build a family.
Organization members and the like) who ask questions about infertility
they will often tell me about their general practitioner who has been
their OB/GYN since early childhood. This general practitioner will
often tell them that IVF is extremely expensive; why not try an
Intra-Uterine Insemination (“I.U.I.”) procedure that is more
cost-effective (approximately $300 – $400) and can be done in the
gynecologist’s office. What they may not be telling their patient is
that the success rate of this procedure is less than 20% per pregnancy
cycle and sometimes much less. What then happens while a six to twelve
month period passes without success and mounting costs (upwards of
$2,000) is all too predictable: discouragement and the acceptance of
what they believe is a hopeless situation. In this all-too-common
scenario, the patients may never be aware of a myriad of advanced
procedures that may help them in their effort to build a family.

A
variety of factors can delay a woman’s chances of having a baby,
including her age, duration, cause of infertility and the number of
previous unsuccessful attempts at treatment. The selection of an
appropriate treatment is dependent on the infertility diagnosis.
Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that the couple chooses an
IVF program based on the couple’s research of the knowledge, training,
and expertise of the clinical and laboratory staff of their choice.

The
causes of infertility are numerous and complex. Effective treatment
requires a detailed examination and history of both male and female
partners. At IRMS, where we perform both clinical IVF treatment and
conduct basic and applied research related to human infertility, we
provide a full range of infertility treatment; everything from basic
work-ups and minimally-invasive treatment to In Vitro Fertilization
(IVF) with the latest Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) analysis.
Our scientific program has two components: the development of new and
improved laboratory technologies and participation in research
protocols to test new medications and approaches to infertility
treatments. Our scientists are recipients of national and international
awards. In the past, our scientists have been responsible for
developing breakthrough technologies such as Assisted Hatching,
Blastocyst Culture and Freezing, as well as the first attempts to use
micromanipulation to assist the fertilization process. I can proudly
illustrate the features of the program that I’m a part of so that a
prospective couple knows what to look for when they search for an IVF
program. It is important to consider recommendations by physicians,
friends, and family; however, it is more important to evaluate the
capabilities of an IVF program through careful research and individual
consultation. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) publish a listing
of outcomes of all major U.S. IVF programs. It is important to make
inquiries beyond simple pregnancy rates; regarding pregnancy rates, it
is important to focus on delivery rates for a group of patients that
are similar in age and diagnosis.

I will be happy to answer any questions so feel free to contact me: J. Kendall Smalls, Embryologist, email KennyS@SBIVF.com ; website www.sbivf.com or www.Embryos.net

Good Luck; don’t be afraid to inquire.


 



      

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