What If I Can’t Have A Baby? Why I Started Getting Serious About Infertility In My Early 30s
Another miscarriage. I felt my heart sink as I sat watching what appeared to be a Livin’ Lozado marathon on OWN. During this particular episode, the show’s star, Evelyn Lozado, found out that she had suffered yet another miscarriage. This was her second in just a matter of months. After the incident, Lozada went to the doctor, who informed her of the risks associated with pregnancy as women aged. I knew it. I’d heard it before, but somehow I’d forgotten my own age.
As the doctor threw out a number that I’m only a few years shy of reaching, I began to get serious. What if I can’t have a child? What if I’m not even married or ready to conceive by 35 (the age that doctors say infertility rates begin to increase)? What if I’m not even ready by 40? I mean it’s not like I have a man. Would I even get to have a child?
My mind was racing and soon my sympathy shifted from Lozada to myself. I needed to talk to my gynecologist. And though I’m only in my early 30s, I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I needed to in advance to prevent issues that may come up when trying to start a family. What I began to find out about Black women and infertility wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear.
For starters, there are more than seven million infertile women in the U.S. It’s evident that women of all races struggle with getting pregnant. It’s not limited to race; but what differs is that, according to research, White women are more likely to seek infertility help than Black women. Costs of treatment and issues of self-consciousness were among the reasons researchers say some Black women suffer in silence. As a result, some give up trying to conceive and simply go childless, despite the hopes of being a mother.
The reality is that women who seek this treatment that could cost upwards of $20,000 dollars are usually White, married, and wealthy. According to studies conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, 15 percent of white women ages 25 to 44 in the United States have sought treatment to assist with their infertility woes. That’s in comparison to only eight percent of Black women. But here’s the kicker: according to the same studies, Black women had almost twice the chance of suffering from infertility than their White counterparts. I’d be mendacious if I said that these statistics didn’t worry me. And the fact that I’m slowly creeping up on 35 only compounds that concern. According to studies, women aged 35 to 45 have a 20 to 35 percent chance of miscarriage.
The statistics were enough to scare me straight to my gynecologist. I knew that I was certainly not ready to have a child, but I needed to make sure I was taking care of my health. While I couldn’t do anything about my age, I could do something about my lifestyle choices. Doctors recommend that you practice safe sex. Of course, this doesn’t pertain to when you’re trying to conceive, but in the meantime, make sure you’re being safe to prevent yourself from contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, which are leading causes of infertility.
Ensuring that you are maintaining a healthy body weight, not smoking, and reducing your caffeine intake are other ways to ensure you’re decreasing your chances of infertility. Some gynecologists even recommend taking prenatal vitamins even if you’re not expecting due to the folic acid benefits.
I’m not ready to have a child, but becoming a mother is definitely on my vision board. That’s why I’ve decided to get serious about becoming pregnant — even though I’m not presently trying to conceive.