Well-Being Prevention & Cures

The Michelle Obama Effect: More black women are seeking treatment for infertility

michelle obama

Story at a glance

  • Research shows black women are less likely to talk to friends, family or even doctors about infertility.
  • In her memoir, “Becoming,” Michelle Obama opened up for the first time about her miscarriage and struggles with infertility.
  • One year after the memoir was published, fertility centers report increased shares of black women as patients.

Almost three years after leaving the White House and a year after releasing her memoir, “Becoming,” Michelle Obama’s legacy as the first black first lady lives on. 

In her memoir, Obama opened up for the first time about her infertility, and health care professionals are seeing an impact. 

“I’m so thankful to our former First Lady for elevating the conversation of miscarriage, loss, and infertility to the level of importance it deserves. It’s encouraging to see the increasing rate of black women now seeking infertility care,” Dr. Desireé McCarthy-Keith, an endocrinologist at Shady Grove Fertility, said in a press release

The percentage of black women seeking in vitro fertilization treatment at SGF’s mid-Atlantic fertility centers grew 50 percent faster than total treatment rates from the first half of 2018 to the first half of 2019.

“Too often black women don’t seek care at the same rate as white women, but infertility can impact anyone, regardless of their race,” McCarthy-Keith said. “And while we are still a long way away from equality when it comes to the number of black women who seek care compared to white women, Michelle Obama shedding an important light, and igniting more women to take action, is definitely a step in the right direction.”

Black women are less likely to talk to friends, family or even doctors about infertility, according to a survey of more than 1,000 women published by Women’s Health Magazine and Oprah Magazine. Obama addressed that reluctance in an interview with ABC News.

“I think it’s the worst thing that we do to each other as women, not share the truth about our bodies and how they work,” Obama told Good Morning America anchor Robin Robertys.  

Obama also shared that she suffered a miscarriage before using IVF to conceive her two daughters with former president Barack Obama. 

“There is a whole long list of celebrities who have shared something about their infertility but this was different,” Barbara Collura, president and CEO of Resolve: The National Infertility Association, told Good Morning America. “When Michelle Obama spoke out it was like earth-shattering. It was a very big deal.”