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black women infertility


We often get to celebrate the good news with celebrities when they share that they’re expecting. We watch them as they grow in size and glow, and we are joyous with them when the child comes into the world. However, we’re not always given the same access when it comes to insight on what it all really took to get to that point. Many of these women have also struggled with infertility and health issues that delayed their attempts to have children. Thankfully though, there are some who aren’t afraid to share their stories in the hopes of providing awareness, and most importantly, helping other women feel less alone in their private struggles.

Tia Mowry, Kenya Moore, Remy Ma and Dr. Jackie Walters of Married to Medicine all took part in writing essays for Women’s Health (and to speak about their experiences with infertility while dealing with endometriosis, fibroids, cancer and miscarriages for a whole package the publication put together on Black Women and their Fertility. What the women had to say was both very intimate, but also relatable to many.


“I’d been experiencing extreme pelvic pain for year sand went to several doctors. Each one would brush me off,” Tia Mowry wrote in her essay about life before and after she was diagnosed with endometriosis. “‘Those are just really bad cramps, some women get them more severely,’ one told me. ‘Just put heat on it,’ one suggested. Another doctor simply said: ‘Get on the treadmill—working out helps.'”

Once she finally was informed that she had endometriosis, Mowry was encouraged to clean up her diet if she wanted to increase her chances of conceiving, but was stubborn about actually doing it.

“My first question was how do we get rid of it? My doctor told me you can’t cure endometriosis, but you can manage it,” she wrote. “She warned that inflammatory foods could make my symptoms worse, but to be honest with you, I didn’t really change my eating habits at that point. I was in my 20s, so I just kept eating whatever the hell I wanted.”

“I ended up needing to have multiple surgeries because my symptoms got so bad. I will never forget sitting in my doctor’s office and her telling me: ‘Look, if you want to have kids one day, and you don’t want to keep having surgeries, you’re gonna have to change your diet,'” she said. “And that’s really when I took everything to the next level. I started following a diet that limited foods like dairy, added sugar, and alcohol and focused instead on healthy choices, such as probiotics, legumes, and lower-sugar fruits.”

In the end, she got pregnant with son Cree, and when her endometriosis symptoms intensified after having him, she overhauled her diet completely. Earlier this year, she welcomed second child, Cairo, at 39. She hopes her journey will inform others and they’ll feel less alone.

“I remembered how, even though I had an amazing support system, I often felt like something was wrong with me,” she said. “I thought I was alone because no one I knew personally had dealt with this. And then I realized: I’d never really seen someone African American in the public eye talking about endometriosis or their struggles with infertility. And when you don’t know or see anyone else who looks like you talking about what you’re going through, you feel alone and suffer in silence.”


Kenya Moore opened up in her essay about her years battling fibroids, and how multiple surgeries for them got in the way of her hopes to conceive.
“I’m 47 now. But in my early 30s, I started experiencing extreme pain that I learned was caused by fibroids, or abnormal growths in the uterus. I had to have several myomectomies, which is the surgery required to have fibroids removed,” she wrote.

“My doctors never told me that the procedures could affect my fertility one day,” she continued. “It wasn’t until after a few surgeries and having to go back to get another fibroid removed—this time I had one the size of a full-term baby—that someone finally said something. It was actually one of my nurse practitioners who told me, ‘At some point, your uterus will not recover from all of this.'”

She would later find out that people in her family had dealt with fibroids as well, even having serious surgeries to deal with it, but just never talked about it.

“I really resented the fact that I couldn’t talk to family about all of this. No one had ever told me what fibroids were—but they’re hereditary so I knew it was likely that someone in my family was familiar with them,” she wrote. “Many of the women had children young, so fertility was never a conversation. But when I finally did bring up my issue, I learned that a few of my kin developed fibroids later in life and needed hysterectomies. If we’d had those conversations when I was younger, maybe I would’ve gotten help for mine sooner.”

We know that Moore would eventually meet and marry Marc Daly, and she wrote in her essay that they tried to conceive naturally, but when they didn’t, they did their research and started IVF. During a second attempt, they were blessed with #babyDaly. She encouraged other women to be hopeful about their happily ever after.

“If I could tell Black women anything, it would be: Listen to your body,” she said. “If something doesn’t feel right, do not be afraid to go see a doctor or a specialist. Living with a problem is never the answer. That’s what I did with my fibroids. There I was, walking around with growths in my uterus, and I had no idea. And that could have affected my prospects of carrying a baby. I’d also say that if you do run into struggles, don’t give up. IVF, egg freezing, surrogates, adoption—it can all sound overwhelming and expensive. But there are ways to find the funds, from financing to loans. So don’t panic. There are always options.”


Dr. Jackie Walters’ infertility situation was because of a battle with breast cancer.

“I was married at 38 and started trying to get pregnant at 39. And I did actually get pregnant! And then…I found out I had breast cancer,” she wrote. “Chemotherapy and radiation led to a miscarriage at six months. The doctors were clear with me that I was never going to get pregnant naturally after that. To this day, I’m still not sure if the miscarriage was caused by age or chemically induced because of the chemo and radiation.”

She tried everything she could within the limits of her situation, from medication to acupuncture, herbal tea and more to help her conceive, but it didn’t work out as planned. She eventually would share her story on Married to Medicine, but she didn’t necessarily get the positive response she hoped for from co-stars and commenters: “I’ve been judged, whether people realized they were doing it or not.”

But as someone who delivers babies for a living, she encourages women to know they have options, many of which we are not taking advantage of.

“Many African American communities are rooted in spirituality, and if you’re a praying person, you might just pray that God’s going to fix it instead of seeking help or care. So in African American culture, the concept of egg freezing and in vitro fertilization is often seen as unnatural. It’s insinuated that God has plan, and having a baby will happen when it’s time,” she said. “That belief system makes many of us not as aggressive about seeking treatment.”
In the end, she wants Black women to be informed as opposed to discouraged.
“Infertility is not something to be ashamed of. If you’re going through it, you should remember: You didn’t do anything to cause this, and there are options available out there,” she said. “But please do be informed and do your research. And don’t be afraid to be open and honest; talk to other women, talk to your doctor.”
Lastly, Remy Ma wrote about how the support she received after going public with her miscarriage following an ectopic pregnancy gave her the encouragement she needed to try IVF.

“After the miscarriage, I was like, ‘I’m calling Love and Hip Hop, I’m telling them to take all of that out of the show. I just don’t want to talk about it,'” she said. “My husband was the one who encouraged me to open up. ‘Babe, the reason why people love you and relate to you is because you’re real and you’re honest,’ he said. ‘If you say how you really feel, there’s some women out there that you’re really gonna help. And you’ll realize that it’s not just you,’ he said.”

“Hearing from so many women who had gone through similar struggles actually helped encourage me to try IVF. But it was scary,” she continued. “My husband and I sat down with a couple of different doctors until we found one who we were comfortable with, and they pretty much told us: ‘There’s not a guarantee this will work, but that does not mean that it’s not gonna happen.'”

But it did work, and she’s grateful. Her journey put into perspective for her the fact that she spent a lot of time focused on her career when she could have been trying to have a child.

“I do think time played a big part into my situation. I have an 18-year-old son, and I put off having a second baby for many years,” she said. “I’d say ‘Okay, I’m gonna do it next year…’ and then I’d get another contract. ‘Okay, I’ll do it in a few more months…’ then I’d start a new TV gig. Before I knew it, I was in my mid-30s and still putting it off, not realizing my body was not the same body I had when I had my son Jayson, when I was 20. My body’s not even the same as it was when I was 30!'”

However, things worked out how they needed to, and Remy doesn’t regret anything she went through to get to this point — preparing for the arrival of the Golden Child.

She said, “for those who are having issues starting a family, whether it’s infertility, or rebounding from a miscarriage like me, there is nothing wrong with you. You are still amazing. Whether you can or cannot bare children, it does not diminish or lessen the fact that you’re a woman, and you are you. My journey has been difficult, and a lot of women go through difficult things. But we are strong. And I wouldn’t change any single part of my story.”


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