Benjamin Zephaniah meets Terri Clothier

Male Infertility - the female experience. Benjamin Zephaniah talks to Terri Clothier
Terri Clothier discusses how her husband’s fertility problems affected her and their relationship. When Terri married Richard (who we heard from in the previous programme ) she knew she wanted a family. They both did. Terri imagined life with two children. But this hasn’t happened. They were unaware that Richard had a fertility problem.  Whilst friends and family were starting their own families Richard and Terri felt alone and isolated. A feeling they describe as grieving. Producer Sarah Blunt.

Support Organisations

Fertility Network UK offers information, advice and support for anyone suffering from infertility related problems. 

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is the UK's independent regulator overseeing the use of gametes and embryos in fertility treatment and research. The website offers details of licensed fertility clinics across the UK.

NHS Fertility

Should commercial surrogacy be banned?

India has been known as a hub of commercial surrogacy but the government is cracking down.
Until a few years ago, India was known globally as a hub for commercial surrogacy. Childless couples and individuals from India and abroad were ready to pay good money to have a child, and poor women were available to rent their wombs. Thousands of infertility clinics sprung up all over India to facilitate the multi-million-dollar industry. But the government has been cracking down on this practice. In 2015, foreigners were banned from seeking commercial surrogacy in India, and now a bill is in the parliament aiming to ban the practice completely, including for Indian citizens. 

Proponents of the ban say that the industry flourishes at the cost of financial and medical exploitation of the surrogates, and that commercial surrogacy poses serious questions around medical ethics. The government is pushing for altruistic surrogacy instead, which offers no financial compensation, comes under certain conditions, and excludes single parents and homosexual couples. On the other hand, supporters of the rent-a-womb industry, insist that surrogates are treated fairly, and it is a win-win situation for both surrogates and childless people seeking an alternative. 

We speak to a doctor with extensive professional experience in commercial surrogacy, a public health expert who supports the ban and believes that reproductive labour is highly exploitative, and a choreographer who was one of the first single men in India to adopt a child. We also hear the voices of surrogate mothers and ask them about their experiences.

Presenter: Devina Gupta

Contributors: Dr Priti Gupta, Fertility Specialist, First Step IVF Clinic; Prof Mohan Rao, Independent Researcher and Public Health Expert; Sandip Soparrkar, Choreographer, Single Parent

Rod - life as a childless man

Rod is fighting to break the culture of silence around male fertility.
Rod is fighting to break the culture of silence around male fertility.

Rod Silvers and his wife tried to have a child through IVF, a process that was ultimately unsuccessful. After that experience, Rod went in search of stories about people like him - childless men - and found nothing. Now he's on a mission to raise awareness about what it's like to be a man without kids. 

He talks with producer Meara Sharma about his own struggle to open up, as well as with Robin Hadley, a social gerontologist who focuses on involuntarily childless men; Jessica Hepburn, author of The Pursuit of Motherhood and founder of Fertility Fest; and Sheryl Homa, a clinical scientist with a special interest in male fertility. 

Older childless men are often met with confusion and embarrassment, seen as socially impotent or even a cause for suspicion. A former market trader, Rod has taken on these attitudes as an actor and writer. His short film, England Expects, uses football as a metaphor for the feelings of hope, loss, and expectation that surround the IVF process. His play, Terry and Jude, explores the lives of two older childless men.

Produced by Meara Sharma

A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4

The evolutionary paradox damaging men's fertility

Are men damaging their ability to have children, while trying to attract a partner?
Scientists believe they have uncovered an evolutionary paradox where men damage their ability to have children during efforts to make themselves look more attractive to potential partners.  

Taking steroids to get a buff physique or taking pills to keep a full head of hair can damage fertility. It has been named the Mossman-Pacey paradox after the scientists who first described it. They say it causes a lot of heartache in couples struggling to conceive. 

Jim Mossman is a research associate in evolutionary biology at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Newsday's Shaimaa Khalil asked him how he first became aware of the paradox.

(Photo: Bodybuilder performs during a championship. Credit: Getty Images)
Infertility blogger on the IVF stigma in some black communities
Infertility blogger says there is a stigma around infertility in some black communities.