African American Women and Infertility: An Unmet Need
ATLANTA, April 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Infertility affects one in eight couples or 7.3 million people in the U.S. 12% of women of reproductive age experience difficulty having a baby and black women have twice the odds of infertility compared to white women. 11.5% of black women report infertility compared to 7% of white women but yet studies indicate that black women use infertility services less often. Why? “In the past, there was a lack of attention toward the problem of infertility in minority women, and most marketing campaigns of infertility awareness and treatment were not directed towards us. This resulted in a lack of awareness about infertility as a disease and about avenues for seeking evaluation and treatment,” says Dr. Desiree McCarthy-Keith, the newest reproductive endocrinologist to join Georgia Reproductive Specialists. “Cost of infertility services can be prohibitive to couples from all ethnic backgrounds and cost may be a factor for some black women as well,” she continues. “I believe lack of access to infertility care and limited awareness about evaluation and treatment options can also be substantial obstacles that keep many women from receiving the care that they need.”
A leading cause of infertility among black women is uterine fibroids. Black women develop uterine fibroids at a younger age than white women and the incidence of fibroids is higher in black women at every age, compared to white women. By the end of the reproductive years, the incidence of uterine fibroids in black women is 80%. As a result, black women have hysterectomies for treatments of fibroids more often than women from any other ethnic group. Dr. McCarthy-Keith, whose medical research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of uterine fibroid regulation, states that “black women are disproportionately affected by uterine fibroids and uterine fibroids are a common diagnosis among black women undergoing infertility treatment.”
Dr. McCarthy-Keith looks forward to educating and promoting infertility awareness within the black community. The low incidence of public awareness in some minority communities is something Dr. McCarthy-Keith hopes to improve. “I am very passionate about increasing awareness of causes of infertility, its evaluation and available treatment options in these underserved areas,” she says. “My goal is to empower women with information which will allow them to seek infertility care when necessary and to take advantage of the infertility services that we have to offer,” she adds.
Dr. McCarthy-Keith earned her medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and also a Master of Public Health in maternal and child health from the University of North Carolina. She completed her obstetrics and gynecology residency training at Duke University Medical Center and a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. She has special interests in fertility evaluation, uterine fibroids and reproductive health disparities. Dr. McCarthy-Keith was a lieutenant commander in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and held the position of assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. She is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology.
“This is an exciting time to practice reproductive medicine and nothing makes me happier than to help couples reach their goal of building a family,” says Dr. McCarthy-Keith.
SOURCE Georgia Reproductive Specialists