By: Krystle Crossman
For some women trying to conceive can be a long and heartbreaking process. When they have to deal with infertility they may feel sad, angry, and even ashamed. A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan found that when black women are dealing with infertility they often do it by themselves in isolation as opposed to seeking support from others. They hide the fact that they cannot conceive and it can overwhelm them with all of the emotions that they feel they are not allowed to express to others.
All but 2% of the women in the study said that the taboos that surround infertility in the black community are the reason that they felt so isolated when dealing with the issue. They felt ashamed because of the stigma around being a woman who cannot have a child as many believe that if you are a woman you should automatically want to be a mother and should have the ability to do so. They were scared that they were going to be shamed for their body’s inability to reproduce and so they keep their feelings and problems to themselves. A professor who was leading the study, Rosario Ceballo, stated that there is an expectation in the black community that black women are supposed to be strong and deal with problems on their own instead of seeking help. Women may feel that they will be ridiculed for being weak if they seek out treatment or a support system when they need to cope with their feelings.
Women in the study also brought up religious stigmas with infertility as part of the reason that they felt the way they did. They felt that God created women to reproduce so when they couldn’t it was a sign that they had done something wrong in God’s eyes and he was not allowing them to have children because of it. They felt ashamed that they were not able to bring a child into the world because of this religious stigma and would keep their feelings to themselves for fear of being shamed by their community.
Black women experience infertility as equally as white women do but unfortunately they tend to deal with their feelings by themselves because of the shame that they feel. They also may not have access to medical care like others do to help them to conceive a child which can add even more pressure or shame.