Black women are twice as likely to struggle with infertility than white women.This is shocking enough, but add to that a shortage in black egg and sperm donors, which is even more so right now is the fact that things have been made worse by the pandemic.
The American National Institutes of Health, or NIH, say that 11% of reproductive age women have experienced fertility problems, and a married black woman is twice as likely to experience infertility
This is thought to be due to health conditions that can affect fertility, such as endometriosis, PCOS and fibroids disproportionately affecting more black women than white.
One black couple experiencing infertility are Rhonda and Jamal Spencer from West Michigan.
They spoke to Yahoo! News about their quest to find an egg donor who could help them to have a baby “that looked like them”, rather than mixed race if they used a white donor.
Where they live, there are no black egg donors. Over the past three years, just 5% of 1,000 egg donor applications have been black. The problem is the same in sperm banks, with even the largest banks recording low numbers of black donors.
“As a Black woman, I want to have a Black child. It was a hurdle that I hadn’t even thought about would be an issue, and to find out that there were none, not one, was very shocking to me and heart breaking.”
The problem has existed since donating eggs and sperm became more mainstream in the 1980s, but recruiting people during the pandemic has made things even worse
Once recruited, a sperm donor must return once or twice a month for six months. Egg donors have to go through at least three months of screenings as well as self-injecting hormones and medications on a strict schedule for weeks.
Donors need to be health screened, both on a physical and emotional basis, pass infectious disease testing and criminal checks. They must also have a college degree or be studying for one.
Founder of Fertility for Colored Girls, Dr Stacey Edwards-Dunn, thinks part of the problem is the stigma
“So it begins with how we have been socialised and educated around our own reproductive health and our Black bodies.”
“Black women and couples mistrust medical professionals, also triggered by past abuse and disregard for Black people in the medical and science field. In part, most IVF marketing and research have not included Black women or Black families.”
“Something I hear from Black women and couples is they want the doctor and team to partner up with them in their treatment — not to look down on them or talk at them. They want someone to walk with them on their journeys.”
Another black woman, 46 year old Aisha Jenkins shares her experience
Aisha says that she used a sperm donor with Egyptian and Indian ancestry, saying, “I knew there were other colours in the spectrum that would give me a brown child”.
Have you had difficulty finding a black egg or sperm donor? Do you have a story to share? We would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
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