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Woman Speaks Up About Infertility In African American Women

(CBS) -- Many African American women don't talk about it, but they should. It's infertility.

As CBS 2 Suzanne Le Mignot explains, one woman is raising her voice about this issue and sharing her struggle, hoping others hear her message.

Stacey Edwards-Dunn's daughter Shiloh was just born on September, 11, 2014.

"This is our little gift," she said.

Their gift after trying for seven years.

How many times did Edwards-Dunn try IVF?

"My husband and I did IVF about eight times," said Edwards-Dunn.

She finally got pregnant at age 43. She says there's a misconception black women don't have trouble conceiving.

"I began to encounter a number of women and couples who were struggling with infertility and many of them didn't know that I was struggling... One of the things I found was that many of them felt like they were walking this journey alone," said Edwards-Dunn.

There are a number of reasons African American women have difficulty getting pregnant.

One of them is a hormonal condition called Polycistic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS. Another problem for young black women is non-cancerous fibroid tumors, according to Dr. Elena Trukhacheva an infertility specialist at Chicago's Reproductive Medicine Institute.

"They're more likely to have fast growing and kind of more aggressive fibroids," said Dr. Trukhacheva.
Plus, women of color are about half as likely as white women to seek treatment for their infertility – and at a young enough age to make the biggest difference.

"There are some changes in the supply of eggs and the quality of eggs as early as 27, 28," said Dr. Trukhacheva.

Brandi Peterson Harris suffers from premature ovarian failure, never knowing when she'll ovulate. The condition happens most often in African American women.

At 36, she and her husband have been trying to have a baby for 10 years. What has that been like?

"It's been hard. It makes me feel like I'm a failure, you know, as a woman and as a wife," said Peterson Harris.

"In the black community, this whole concept is taboo. People don't talk about their mom or their sister or their aunt who have problems getting pregnant," she added.

That's why Stacey Edwards-Dunn, founded the non-profit group, Fertility for Colored Girls, offering information and support.

Through her own story and those like Peterson Harris, she has this final message.

"It can happen. Shiloh, my daughter, is proof of that. It can happen for them."

There are some natural ways to increase fertility including exercising more, eating more protein and less carbs and quitting smoking.

Another deterrent to infertility treatment is the cost, which could run in the thousands.

Some groups offer financial assistance such as Fertility for Colored Girls, The Broken Brown Egg and Tinina Q. Cade Foundation.

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