Fertility can be a difficult experience for many women. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are an estimated 6.7 million women ages 15-44 in the U.S. with an impaired ability to get pregnant or carry a baby to term. Around 1.5 million married women ages 15-44 are diagnosed as infertile.
For black women, trying to conceive is an even more precarious spot to be in, with research putting the odds of infertility at twice that of our white counterparts. Yet, despite these odds, research shows that black women are less likely than white women to seek medical help for infertility. There are many reasons why black (and Latino) women decide to stay quiet. What are the reasons exactly? This is partiallyÂ due toÂ a lack ofÂ education within the community on the necessary steps to take,Â partially embarrassment, and lastly financial hardship.
However, black women can be rest assured that they are not alone. The reason for this is greatly in part because of places likeÂ Oshun Fertility, a black-owned fertility agency based in northern New Jersey that facilitates the needs of the African-American community. Founded in 2015 by husband and wife team, Helen A. and Marcus S. Stephens, Oshun Fertility helps intended parents select the appropriate fertility plan based on physical needs, financial constraints, and cultural and emotional issues. Oshun Fertility is also the first egg donation and surrogacy agency designed specifically for people of African and Latino descent. Its goal is to educate and empower clients by helping them navigate through the process of third-party reproductive family building, while also paying attention to their cultural, emotional, and psychological needs.
“At Oshun Fertility, we know there are many people of African and Latino descent who are struggling with infertility issues,” says Helen Stephens. “We want them to know there are options. They don’t have to suffer alone.”
The taboo around the topic has created so much mystery and misinformation around infertility. In addition to the services offered by Oshun, the major goal is to also educate the community about fertility practices. A trainedÂ microbiologist, Helen Stephens has decades of experience in the healthcare industry, having worked specifically in the infertility field in pharmaceuticals, as a researcher, and as a recruiter. While working on the development of fertility drugs and later, the recruitment of donors, Helen noticed a dearth of fertility services aimed at people of color and, in 2009, founded Diversity Fertility Services.
From there, the rest is history.
For more information on Oshun and Diversity Fertility Services visit: oshunfertility.com.