According to the CDC, infertility is defined as “not being able to get pregnant (conceive) after one year (or longer) of unprotected sex,” which affects nearly 10 percent of women in the U.S. At this year’s ESSENCE Wellness House, panelists Veronica Gillispie-Bell, MD, FACOG, reproductive endocrinologist Stephanie Marshall Thompson, MD, and moderator Barkue Tubman-Zawolo of ESSENCE took part in a timely conversation surrounding “Delayed Motherhood and Infertility” in order to bring light to the subject.
During the discussion, Gillispie-Bell, board-certified OB-GYN and head of Women’s Services at Ochsner Health, emphasized the importance of normalizing discussions about fertility issues, sharing that “recognition is key.”
“There’s no shame in infertility,” she says. “We need to normalize infertility as a medical diagnosis.”
Gillispie-Bell, who has experience treating uterine fibroids and providing guidance for women of color on their fertility journey, continued by adding that breaking down stigmas can allow women to better advocate for themselves on their fertility journey.
“When the stigma of not being able to or experiencing difficulty conceiving is removed, patients can confidently approach their OB-GYN,” she explained.
Infertility specialist Stephanie Marshall Thompson also highlighted the value of getting an early start on protecting one’s fertility by looking into egg freezing options.
“Egg freezing is most successful the younger you are, yet the journey is still an option for women who freeze up into their early 40s given advancements in technology over the last 15 years,” she remarked.
The segment hit home for one audience member, Jasmine Moore, who shared how seeing Black women take part in this discussion empowered her to better understand the range of fertility options available to her and others, no matter their socioeconomic background.
“It was really awesome to hear Black female doctors specializing in that area who could give guidance and discuss that there’s a possibility for people to freeze their eggs — especially for those who may think it is not affordable or who may be in a gray area deciding whether they want to have kids,” she shared.
To learn more about your fertility options, the experts recommend starting by talking with your gynecologist. For additional resources, visit the National Infertility Association website or the American Society for Reproductive Medicine online at asrm.org.