Yemi Adegbile, a lead fertility nurse at Create Fertility, a renowned IVF specialist centre, is calling for increased awareness and action to address racial inequalities in fertility care
Speaking at the Royal College of Nursing’s Fertility Nursing Forum, Adegbile emphasised the need for nursing staff to prevent Black and ethnic minority women from “falling through the cracks” when it comes to accessing quality fertility care.
According to Adegbile, infertility support is often inaccessible or not culturally sensitive for BME individuals, leading to missed opportunities for treatment. Cultural expectations, such as the pressure to conceive soon after marriage, can exacerbate the stress experienced by these couples. In some cases, this stress leads to social exclusion, causing women to delay seeking help or not present at fertility clinics.
Highlighting the issue further, Adegbile shared that Black patients start IVF treatment, on average, almost two years later than the average person. This delay is especially problematic in areas where NHS funding for IVF is only available until the age of 35. The situation can be described as a “postcode lottery” for the BME community, according to one forum member.
Adegbile stressed the importance of culturally specific care and called on nursing staff to become more educated in this regard. She emphasised the need to understand the diverse backgrounds of patients and ensure that language barriers are addressed, such as providing digital materials and instructions in languages other than English. Adegbile also advocated for the provision of interpreters in fertility clinics and respecting patients’ cultural practices, such as prayer.
Improving access to fertility care for BME women requires outreach and raising awareness. Adegbile actively engages with religious communities, debunking misconceptions about infertility and providing information on where to seek help. She urges nurses to support and empower these women, ensuring they do not wait in silence.
By incorporating culturally competent care, nursing staff can make a significant difference in the lives of Black and ethnic minority women, ensuring they receive the support and treatment they deserve. Let us work together to create a more inclusive and compassionate fertility care system.
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