As you probably know, fertility is affected by many things that you can’t control. The most common of these include factors such as age, genetics, and medical conditions. But did you know that your race and ethnicity can play a part, too?
This is a difficult topic to cover but it’s important to explain how ethnic groups struggle with fertility and how egg donors of different racial backgrounds can help.
First, let’s explain some terms. Clinically speaking, infertility is the inability to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months of appropriately timed intercourse (around the “fertile window”). Approximately 1 in 8 couples in the US are affected by infertility — that’s somewhere between 10% and 15%.
“Race” refers to physical characteristics that are associated with biology (such as skin color). “Ethnicity” refers to shared cultural practices, such as language, religion, ancestry, and beliefs.
The US is a racially and ethnically diverse country, which means it is home to people from all walks of life. Research has shown that a person’s race and/or ethnicity can play a huge part in their health. There are many reasons for this, from biology to the workings of the healthcare system.
Here are a few simple facts about how race and ethnicity impact fertility.
Black women are at least 1.5 times more likely to experience infertility than women of other races.
According to a 2014 national survey, Black women were almost twice as likely to experience infertility as white women.
Further research has noted that Black and Mexican-American individuals are less likely to seek out care for infertility than those who are white or Asian.
There can be many reasons for this, and not all are related to health. Some reports have cited major racial disparities in access to infertility care, as well as challenges with the medical system, a lack of Black and Mexican-American sperm and egg donors, and cultural difficulties in seeking help.
Infertility may be higher in the Jewish community than in the general population
The national average of infertility is 1 in 8. But in the Jewish community, it is much higher: 1 in 6. This reality is made more difficult to bear by pressures for Jewish couples to produce many children (one of the commandments in the Torah is to “be fruitful and multiply.”)
Ashkenazi Jews face yet another obstacle when it comes to becoming parents. Sadly, this particular ethnic community is more prone to illnesses and certain autosomal recessive genetic disorders than nearly every other ethnic group.
An estimated one in four people of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage is a carrier of a serious genetic condition – the most common of which include cystic fibrosis, Gaucher disease, Tay-Sachs disease, familial dysautonomia, and Canavan disease. Other conditions associated with Jewish heritage include Fanconi anemia, Niemann-Pick disease, Bloom syndrome, mucolipidosis type IV, and many others.
This high rate of genetic conditions means that Ashkenazi Jewish couples or individuals are highly recommended to undergo routine preconception or prenatal expanded carrier screening. It also means that many hopeful parents may choose third-party reproduction instead.
East Asian women have poorer outcomes from fresh embryo transfers.
Compared to white women, women who are of East Asian descent (Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese) are found to have longer periods of infertility before seeking help. This may affect their chances of success with assisted reproductive technology (ART).
Indeed, research shows that East Asian women have poorer outcomes from fresh embryo transfers. A study involving Caucasian and Asian women on the ART database found that Asian women experienced lower rates of cumulative pregnancies (33.3%) than Caucasian women (41.3%). East Asian women also had lower live birth rates ((26.9%) than Caucasian women (34.9%). Overall, East Asian women were found to be a third less likely than Caucasian women to get pregnant following a fresh embryo transfer.
Some studies in breast cancer incidence have shown that hormone metabolism plays a role in population differences. One study showed that Asian American women had significantly higher levels of estrogen than Chinese women in China.
Embryonic transfers usually take place shortly after the eggs are retrieved, and high estrogen levels may influence whether the endometrium is receptive to having the embryo implant. Further research has shown that high estrogen levels may reduce pregnancy rates in fresh embryo transfers in IVF by disrupting the implantation of the embryo into the endometrium.
Why Jewish, Asian, and African American egg donors are needed
As we’ve explained above, there is substantial evidence that certain ethnic communities are at a higher risk of infertility issues, genetic defects, or both. These issues can significantly impact a person’s ability to start a family, leaving third-party reproduction as their only hope.
Understandably, many Intended Parents want to have a child who shares their physical characteristics. As a result, many Intended Parents seek egg donors of Jewish, Asian, and African American descent.
If you’re an intended parent looking for an egg donor with specific requirements, we’d love to hear from you.
If you’re of Jewish, Asian, or African American heritage and you are considering becoming an egg donor, there are many Intended Parents on our waiting list who are looking for someone just like you. You may be the donor who makes their dream come true!
Questions? Get in touch with the Family Source Consultants team.