With Black Maternal Health Week being earlier this month and National Infertility Week this week, it’s essential for everyone to know about their reproductive health.
By Allison Joyner
As the country debates abortion rights, it is only a fraction of the conversation regarding reproductive health. This is a necessary conversation to have, though, and one director and producer Chiquita Lockley aims to make more complete through her film.
The documentary “Eggs Over Easy” discusses other aspects of this issue that are not being discussed, especially for African American women.
“We talk about fertility, which also includes adoption but it also includes being child-free by choice which most people leave out when so many of us fall in that category,” said Chiquita Lockley, director of the film. “I wanted to include that conversation because I did not know until one of my friends tried to tie her tubes. When you are under age 40 and without children, you need a letter from your husband to give you permission – assuming you have one – or a psychological evaluation.”
Lockley was inspired to direct, write and produce the film when her OB-GYN asked her if she thought about having a baby and discussed other gynecological concerns during her annual visit. When she entered her 40s, her doctor discussed the remaining eggs she had in her body. Blacking out during the conversation, she was confused about what to do with them.
“I found out that the fibroids we’ve been watching for a decade had grown so large that I needed a myomectomy, similar to a cesarean but they take out fibroids instead of taking out a baby.”
She was even recommended to have a hysterectomy, which seemed a little too extreme, and she wanted to find less invasive measures.
When she discussed this with her friends, they also admitted their own fertility issues with her.
According to the March of Dimes, Black women are nearly three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than White women. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports the infant mortality rate among Black babies in the U.S. is 10.6 per 1,000 live births.
“80 percent of Black women will have fibroids by age 50 and the number one option doctors are giving us to fix this is a hysterectomy,” Lockley said.
In addition to discussing fibroids, Lockley’s film documents Black women going through various medical issues and procedures, including Endometriosis, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, IVF, miscarriages, surrogacy, and egg donation and freezing procedures.
Official movie poster for “Eggs Over Easy.” (Image provided by Justin Foster)
“I did fertility, which spans the full spectrum from women who want to have children and are maybe trying or they don’t even know they shouldn’t be trying to conceive because nobody had a conversation with them about the AMH or antimalarial hormone, which lets you know if you have eggs and how many you still may have,” Lockley said.
She says plenty of things women need to know regarding their reproductive health.
Asking your Human Resources department or healthcare provider if they have an insurance rider in their benefits package. This will help with the additional costs that occur when beginning the fertility process.
Since Lockley was conversing about her reproductive health with her doctor in her 40s, she believes that women should start talking to younger women in their 20s instead.
She said that Black women are active on social media, posting activities like their latest vacation but should also start financially preparing for motherhood.
“Do you have a savings account set up in case of an emergency?” Lockley said. “You might need it if you wake up and decide you want a child at age 35 to 40 and find out you don’t have any eggs.”
She also suggests that when you start the fertility process, have the man tested for their sperm count before having the procedure that counts the number of eggs in a woman’s body.
“Men are a third the cause of [infertility] for a couple (there’s female-factor infertility, male-factor infertility and couples-factor infertility),” Lockley said. “But when couples are tested, the woman is 9.5 times more likely to get tested first. Since the test for men is less invasive, why not test the men first? He has to leave a sample in a cup to see if he has sperm and if they are mobile.”
You can find “Eggs Over Easy” on-demand or on Discovery+.
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