Woman’s Hour host Emma Barnett, 35, who struggled to conceive after her endometriosis went undiagnosed for TWO decades, says woman are ‘blamed’ for infertility
- BBC presenter, 35, has a son, three, but told her followers on Instagram that she and her husband struggled to conceive because of her endometriosis
- This week, she interviewed comedian Rhod Gilbert about male infertility – the comic has been trying to have a baby with wife Sian Harries for six years
- Barnett told her followers: ‘woman have infertility put on them as their fault’
- She said she understood Gilbert’s words about not letting yourself get ‘desperate’ for a child – saying they were ‘painfully true’
Woman’s Hour presenter Emma Barnett says woman often have infertility ‘put on them as their fault and their fault alone’.
Speaking about her own experiences of struggling to conceive after interviewing comedian Rhod Gilbert about male infertility on the BBC2 programme this week, the Radio 2 host told her Instagram followers that she related to much of what the comedy star had said.
Barnett, 35, who waited 20 years for a diagnosis of endometriosis after suffering since her periods began at 11, conceived her son, three, after a long struggle.
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BBC Woman’s Hour presenter, Emma Barnett, who has a son, three, told her followers on Instagram that women often feel like infertility is ‘put on them as their fault and their fault alone’
This week, she interviewed comedian Rhod Gilbert about male infertility – the comic has been trying to have a baby with wife Sian Harries for six years and has made a film for the BBC Stand up to Infertility
She made the post after interviewing Gilbert, who’s new BBC film Stand Up To Infertility discusses male infertility, this week. He revealed on the Radio 2 show how he and his wife Sian had been trying for a baby for six years.
Barnett said she understood Gilbert’s words about not letting yourself get ‘desperate’ for a child – saying they were ‘painfully true’ and telling followers: ‘When you can’t conceive naturally – you can never let yourself hope too hard.’
She also said she agreed with the comedian’s point that male infertility isn’t discussed nearly as much as female infertilty, with women often feeling like they’re to blame, saying: ‘It’s women who sit closest to the doctor, are the point of contact for fertility checkups/interventions.
‘Despite 50 per cent of fertility issues being due to male health. 50 per cent. It is another thing women take on or have put on them as their fault and their fault alone.’
The broadcaster has been open about her fertility struggles in the past, writing an essay in Vogue about how endometriosis had impacted her and her husband’s ability to conceive.
Barentt told her 25,000 followers on Instasgram that she understood Gilbert’s words about not letting yourself get ‘desperate’ for a child – saying they were ‘painfully true’
Confronting new documentary: Rhod Gilbert has spoken out on his own issues with fertility ahead of his new documentary on the subject.
She wrote in October 2019: ‘Because of my diagnosis we qualified for IVF on the NHS, and were actively prescribed it after we again failed to fall pregnant naturally within six months of my operation (the time with the highest odds of success). The child I didn’t ever believe would be ours was born 18 months ago. I still can’t quite believe I am a mother.’
On BBC Breakfast this week, Gilbert said his new documentary doesn’t explore his personal story of infertility with his wife of seven years, writer Sian Harries, and he admitted making the film had forced him to confront his own feelings of ’embarrassment’ around the subject.
‘I’m someone who’s been through it, it is personal,’ he explained.
‘I’m the target audience for this documentary and by that I mean I’m trying to get men talking and get past the stigma and the embarrassment of talking about it, but I’ve got to overcome that myself.’
‘I’m as much part of the problem as anyone else I think.’
Rhod explained that meeting other men going through fertility problems during filming helped him open up, especially his conversations with writer and poet Benjamin Zephaniah.
‘Benjamin Zephaniah suffers from something called Azoospermia which means no sperm basically,’ Rhod told BBC Breakfast.
‘He has a wonderful line where he says this culture of not talking is killing us.’
Speaking out: The comedian, 52, appeared on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday to talk about his BBC film Stand Up To Infertility, which airs across the UK on Sunday
Candid: While he said the documentary doesn’t explore his personal story of inferlity with his wife of seven years, writer Sian Harries, he admitted making the film had forced him to confront his own feelings of ’embarrassment’
‘That can be literally, by people not being able to take it anymore, the pressure and the bottling up of your emotions and the shame and the embarrassment around this subject. But also I think probably the impact on women of men not talking about it and not enagaging with it is enormous as well.’
Rhod married his wife, comedy writer, Sian Harries, in 2013 and the couple were undergoing fertility treatment until the pandemic put a stop to procedures.
Speaking to Wales Online about his documentary, Rhod admitted he was ‘nervous’ about the show going out, explaining: ‘From the moment I first pitched this to BBC Wales I was in two minds. Every day were we filming I was thinking ‘is this really what I want?’ and you can see that in me, it comes across – being the face of infertility, for Christ’s sake?
Appearance: Rhod explained that meeting other men going through fertility problems during filming helped him open up, especially his conversations with writer Benjamin Zephaniah
‘And I still feel like that, I’m doing it because somebody has to do it, I can’t say I’m looking forward to it going out – I don’t want it going out – but It’s important.’
‘I know there’ll be negative stuff, it’s partly why the documentary is needed, we live in a world where men, this macho, b******t thing, when Benjamin Zephaniah was saying [in the documentary], I can’t have kids and all the blokes around him were like ‘bring your woman to me’.
‘I know I’m going to get that. Being passed in a van and being shouted at, but I do think it’s important so I’ll take it on the chin.’
Rhod Gilbert Stand Up To Infertility airs across the UK on BBC Two at 9:45pm on Sunday.
Tough time: Rhod married his wife, comedy writer, Sian Harries, in 2013 and the couple were undergoing fertility treatment until the pandemic put a stop to procedures
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