Remy Ma and Tia Mowry are among the celebs sharing their personal struggles with infertility to shine a spotlight on the reproductive health of black women.
In a joint feature for Oprah.com and WomensHealthMag.com, the magazines interviewed over 1,000 black women with staggering results about the state of their fertility after a study revealed black women are twice as likely to deal with infertility as white women. Yet, only 8 per cent of black women between the ages of 24 and 44 seek medical help when it comes to getting pregnant.
Rapper Remy Ma dealt with the stigma that comes with being infertile. The rapper, who has an 18-year-old son, put off trying for a second baby for years. After suffering a miscarriage in 2017, she says there wasn’t a lot of conversation happening in her circle of friends.
“Black women feel a constant pressure to be superwoman — to be strong. We’re the moms, the best friends, the workers, the backbone of the family. So struggling to naturally have children? That’s a sign of weakness that makes you feel like less than a woman. It’s as much about stigma as it is about pride,” she shares.
“I experienced an ectopic pregnancy, which meant that the egg had attached itself to my fallopian tube. I needed an emergency surgery and to have my tubes removed,” she says, adding that she was “scared and embarrassed” to talk about it as she headed into what would be a successful IVF treatment.
“I’m 39, and I’m now a month away from my due date. My husband calls the baby the Golden Child. It was a miracle because so many people were saying it might not work. We sacrificed a lot with no guarantees,” she says, adding that infertility “does not diminish or lessen the fact that you’re a woman, and you are you.”
It’s a similar story for Mowry who says no one around her ever spoke about reproductive issues.
“No one around me, including my mother and family members, had ever talked about having trouble getting pregnant; it was never something that crossed my mind,” the actress says who, after years of pain, was diagnosed with endometriosis. Mowry’s complaints of pelvic pain were brushed off by doctors who said it was just “cramps” or advised her to workout to relieve the pain.
“I once found myself crying in the back of my car, and my sister Tamera had to drive me home because I was in too much pain to drive,” she says. “Back when I was in college, I would sometimes skip class because I just needed to sit on the toilet to relax the muscles around my uterus. Even though multiple doctors told me not to worry about my symptoms, I knew in my gut this was serious.”
In her late 20s, Mowry was eventually diagnosed with endometriosis, undergoing several surgeries over the years and changing her diet to help alleviate symptoms.
“I felt really alone. I didn’t know anyone who had dealt with this,” she says. Against the odds, Mowry got pregnant not once, but twice and is now mom to Cree, 7, and Cairo, who was born in June. Because she didn’t see anyone speaking about endometriosis, Mowry decided to step up and share her struggles publicly and publish a cookbook full of recipes that help relieve inflammation.
“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,” she explains. “Compared to other communities, it feels like there’s a void when it comes to talking about healthy living and medicine from African American women, for African American women.”