Reasons Why African American Patients Delay Treatment


As we covered in the previous lesson, there can be a real penalty to delaying fertility treatment. But, unfortunately, African American women and couples tend to wait longer to be treated than women of other races.

In this lesson we’ll distill some of the underlying factors that likely cause a delay in treatment, namely African American women and couples are:

  • More likely to be perceived as fertile by their primary caregivers

  • Less likely to view fertility treatment as a primary option

  • More likely to worry about the financial and time commitment of treatment

Wrongly Perceived As More Fertile

Generally speaking, referring doctors tend to under-appreciate the fertility challenges that African American people face.

As you can see in the data below, African American women record dramatically higher rates of infertility compared with other races. This data comes from a survey of over 15,000 married, US women and reflects the percentage of women who’ve been trying unsuccessfully to have a child. After adjusting for a few factors, investigators considered African American women and couples nearly twice as likely to suffer from fertility issues.

However, in a survey of over 150 family doctors and OBGYNS, investigators noted “only 16% correctly identified African American patients as the racial group most at risk for infertility.

A likely byproduct of these two facts is that African American women aren’t being referred along for fertility treatment as swiftly as Caucasian women. In turn, more burden may be placed on African American women to self-diagnose an issue and find care.

De-prioritizing Medical Treatment

African American women and couples often place more trust in their community or religious institutions than they do in the medical system and thus may be more reluctant to seek treatment.

In a survey of 1,350 women with fertility challenges, African American women were roughly 3 times more likely (than Caucasian women) to believe their ability to conceive relied upon “religious faith” or “God’s will” and 1/10th as likely to see it as dependant upon “trusting a medical provider.”

AA Reasons For Delay