Breaking Infertility Stigma Among Latinos and Hispanics

Couples of Hispanic and Latin American heritage with fertility problems are half as likely as the overall U.S. population to seek infertility treatment, a situation CU’s Advanced Reproductive Medicine wants to change

Denver (December 11, 2014) – Jose and Doricel Aragon are not like most Latino couples that have fertility problems. That’s because they sought medical help and are now bringing up their 3-month old daughter Raphaella as a result. But it wasn’t an easy choice for the couple whose culture assumes that all Latinos are fertile.

People in the Latino community say about infertility problems, Oh, there’s this elderly woman who does the Mayan massage for the uterus, or you can drink this tea. That’s the scope of their knowledge about infertility,” said Doricel. “They need to have their minds opened up to the fact that there are doctors who specialize in infertility and they can help. In our case, it turned out better than we expected.”

The American Psychology Association’s (APA’s) recent report bears out the cultural reluctance to pursue medical fertility treatment. APA reported that white women are twice as likely as minorities to seek infertility treatment.

Doricel and Jose are exceptions to the rule. They were patients of and encouraged by Dr. Ruben Alvero, director of University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine. Doricel said the support they received from Alvero and his staff was amazing and helped her feel much more comfortable throughout her treatment.

Alvero wants people of Latin American heritage to seek the fertility services they need and has plumbed their resistance, which he thinks can be turned around by social media contact and broad-based awareness efforts.

Alvero’s qualitative pilot study of why Denver Latinos don’t seek fertility treatment identified the following obstacles:

  • Latinos were perceived to be universally fertile and not in need of fertility treatments
  • Infertility is a cultural stigma that prevents those affected from talking about the issue, much less seeking medical help
  • Fear of finding out which member of the couple is responsible for infertility
  • A fatalism about fertility that hampers seeking solutions
  • Lack of awareness of their options and little faith in their healthcare providers addressing their problems
  • Religion does NOT appear to be a significant barrier.

“A persistent and disturbing theme was the study participants’ perceived lack of interest on the part of medical providers in helping with their infertility,” says Alvero. “Virtually all participants wished for greater basic medical knowledge and increased awareness for the community at large so that the stigma of infertility could be mitigated.”

Interviewees said that awareness could be increased by promotion on Latino radio and television—even suggesting a “telenovela” with a theme of infertility—and through social media. Alvero says 80 percent of adult U.S. Latinos use social media as opposed to 72 percent of the overall adult U.S. population.

About University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine

University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine specializes in the evaluation and treatment of infertility and reproductive disorders. The center offers each patient a comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan to provide personalized care with the most advanced technology available. Our goal is to make every effort to treat reproductive disorders with simple methods and less expensive therapies. However, in cases where these prove unsuccessful, as a state of the art facility, we draw upon the latest advances and the most sophisticated methods available in infertility and reproductive therapy.