Breaking The Silence: Black Women Open Up About Struggling to Conceive and IVF After 35

by Olivia Butler

December 19, 2017

Photos by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images, Mike Pont/Getty Images and Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Dress for Success Worldwide

This year black women have been breaking the taboo of speaking about their infertility issues publicly.

In July Remy Ma talked about her traumatic ectopic pregnancy and plans to open up a fertility treatment foundation. In October, Gabrielle Union opened up about her 9 miscarriages, and most recently celebrity stylist Tai Beauchamp talked to XO Necole about her decision to freeze her eggs at 35.

According to XO Necole, egg freezing, or oocyte cryopreservation, has been around for about three decades. The first successful birth from a frozen egg occurred in 1986.

Here’s where the facts get interesting.

Baby girls are born with about two million eggs, but by the time they hit pubescent years, they’re down to three-to-four hundred thousand, and lose another thousand each month. According to fertility specialist Dr. Sherman J. Silber, 16 percent of women in their late twenties will be infertile, and by mid to late thirties, 25 percent will battle with infertility.

LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 06:  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)

At 44, Gabrielle Union wrote in her book,“I have had eight or nine miscarriages.”“For three years, my body has been a prisoner of trying to get pregnant — I’ve either been about to go into an IVF cycle, in the middle of an IVF cycle, or coming out of an IVF cycle.”

MIAMI, FL – JUNE 15: (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for ABFF)

So what are some women doing about it? On air personality and stylist, Tai Beauchamp, 35, has decided to freeze her eggs.

Now that the process is done, Tai told XO Necole she feels “like super woman.” “It wasn’t just about my physical body, I just felt like I did that. It supported all that I believe I want to become as a person because how often are we told to take charge of a situation or you can do it?”

But the process wasn’t easy. Beauchamp’s insurance only covered the initial consultation, so it was up to her to fund the remaining $15,000 worth of medical visits, procedure costs and prescriptions. Since the average person doesn’t have that amount just sitting around in the bank, Beauchamp suggests looking to organizations, such as Baby Quest Foundation, which offers financial assistance to those in need, or using “layaway” plans such as EggBanxx to break up the costs.

In addition to the financial hurdles there’s also the discomfort that comes along with increasing hormone levels. Similar to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), Beauchamp had to give inject herself with a needle three times a day for thirteen days for ovarian stimulation according to XO Necole. Tai describes the experience as PMS times 100.

She also had to go into the fertility clinic at six in the morning for daily monitoring of the oocyte (egg) growth and growth of the follicles. The easiest part of the process was the actual extraction procedure, which took only 20 minutes. On average they hope to extract anywhere between 8 to 15 oocytes, and Beauchamp produced ten.

Unfortunately, even though she was able to produce 10 good eggs there still is no guarantee that they will work later.

Photo by Extended Fertility

According to Extended Fertility, starting at age 35, live birth rates begin to decline by 10% every two years for women who use their own eggs of the same age during in vitro fertilization. In contrast, women up to the age of 47 have a steady 51% success rate of when using younger eggs from a donor. (And there’s no difference in pregnancy rates for frozen and thawed eggs vs. fresh ones.)

PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 16:  (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)

New York-based Remy Ma, 37, has talked openly about her struggle to conceive following a tragic ectopic pregnancy in 2016. After doctors told her she would no longer be able to conceive naturally she looked to IVF as the next best option to have a child. Unfortunately, IVF is simply out of reach for other women who are going through similar struggles due to it’s expensive price tag.

The harsh reality is that US women can get medical insurance or a government grant to help with an abortion but there is no financial assistance available to help women to conceive.

It’s because of this that Remy has decided to open a foundation to financially support women who have been through a similar experience to her or have other fertility issues.

TELL US: Have you tried IVF or do you know someone who has?

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