No Baby, No Shame in Infertility

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In recognition of the UN’s “World Children’s Day”, Liz Waid and Colin Lowther look at the social attitudes around infertility. Many people hope to have children. But sometimes, they are not able. This can bring great shame. Today, women are saying: no baby, no shame!

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Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

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And I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

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When Betty Apio married her husband many years ago, both their families were full of hope and happiness. Apio lives in the country of Uganda. In Uganda, as in many countries, everyone expects women to have children. Many people there believe that women exist to have children. To fail at this, is to fail as a wife and as a woman.

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After Apio was married, her husband prepared their house for children. Then they waited. They tried again and again to have children. But the children never came.

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Today’s Spotlight is on infertility. Some people are not able to have children — even when they are trying for over a year. This is infertility. There are many medical reasons for infertility. But today’s Spotlight is on the social attitudes surrounding infertility.

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Betty Apio and her husband went to a doctor to find out what was wrong. She received some medical treatments from the doctor. But they did not work. To make the situation worse, her husband’s family began to make fun of her and call her bad names. In Uganda, a man can have more than one wife. So, his family told him to find another woman, a second wife. This new wife gave him two children. Now Apio lives a different kind of life. She told the Washington Post Foreign Service:

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“People will never give me respect. They believe I have no value. They insult me. They say: ‘You barren woman, you are useless!’ It is horrible. I must be strong or I will not survive.”

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Infertility affects people all around the world. It does not matter if you have money, education, or power. And it affects both men and women. Experts say that globally, about 15 percent of all couples who are at the age to have children are infertile. In some places, this number can be as high as 20 percent.

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Infertility is common. But people do not often talk about this problem. Many people feel great pressure to have children, even if they are successful in other areas of life. To men and women who want to have children but are not able, the pressure can be crushing. And often, if a couple cannot have children, people blame the woman.

A women looks to the distance
A women looks to the distance; Image by Iulian Ursache from Pixabay
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This can lead women especially to feel shame. They believe that they are alone in their struggle with infertility. They may even avoid talking about children. They may avoid attending events where children will be present. They may even find it difficult to be happy when children are born to other people.

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It is difficult to be infertile. But the social attitude about infertility only makes the problem worse. As in Betty Apio’s case, the community can make infertile people feel great shame. But people should not feel shame about their infertility. They should not feel alone. In fact, some women are speaking out to encourage other people who may be struggling. By talking together, they are finding hope.

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Betty Apio wanted to be one of these women. She decided to talk about her situation. She wanted to share her story with other women. She did not want other people to feel like she did.

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Apio has found some help at a support center in Kampala. At the center there were groups that help women. These groups explain the medical reasons for infertility. Women can connect with other women. And they can connect with doctors who can help them at a fertility center.

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Prakesh Patel runs one of the fertility centres in Kampala. He told the Washington Post that many women struggle to visit him. Women often do not want anyone to know they are going to a fertility centre. And they share great sadness. He said,

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“I say to them, ‘This is not a disease. There are many like you. You do not have to feel shame.”

A negative pregnancy test;
A negative pregnancy test; Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels
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If you or someone you know is infertile, the best thing you can do is to find people who support you. Surround yourself with people who will love you and care for you. These people may be in your own family, but they may not. They may be some friends or people from your community.

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If you do not feel comfortable talking to a friend or family member, there may be resources in your community. Many fertility centers have support groups. They are a good place to learn about what medical treatments are possible in your area. These treatments are not possible for everyone. They may cost a lot of money. And they do not always work. But the most important treatment is the support and love to face the challenge of infertility.

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The emotional pain of infertility is very real. This is true even for people who are able to build their family in other ways such as through medicine or through adoption, caring for a child without parents.

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Many people who are infertile feel anger and shame. They may wonder why this could happen to them. They may want to feel peace and acceptance. But they also may not want to lose the dream of having children.

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Shannon Woodward wrote a book about her struggle to make peace with her infertility called “Inconceivable”. It was not easy for her. Her desire to have her own children never went away. Woodward is a Christian. She says she was able to see how God can work through her pain. She writes:

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“For years, I hated my broken body parts. I took my worth from what I could or could not produce. I asked God to heal my body. But it turns out he had a better plan. He healed parts of me I did not know were broken. He put new skin on old wounds. He freed me from my pain and self-hatred.”

Two women hold hands
Two women hold hands; Image by AndPan614 from Pixabay
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Infertility is painful. But facing infertility can bring healing. If you are infertile, look for support. And if you know an infertile person, offer them love and support.

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Do you know someone who has struggled to have a baby? Is there support for infertility in your area? Tell us about your experiences. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at You can also find us on Facebook and YouTube.

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The writer of this program was Adam Navis. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called “No Baby, No Shame in Infertility”.

Voice 2 

Visit our website to download our free official App for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!


Do you know someone who has struggled to have a baby? Are there helpful resources for infertility in your area?


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  • Hi Spotlight team, thank you for all.
    Yes I know many people in my country who are infertile and struggled to have children.
    And our country, we have also infertility center who help this people to support their pain.

  • Hi Spotlight team, I am from Vietnam. In my country, if a couple lives together for 3 or 6 months but the wife isn’t pregnant. Neighbors, friends and relatives will say that this couple is infertility. Even if this couple doesn’t want to have baby at this time, because they have their own plans for their life. Sometime, when a couple is struggling to have baby. Other’s opinion will be crash pressure. My uncle and his wife had been marriage for 8 years. They tried a lot to have baby. They found a lot of medical methods. But children didn’t come. My grandmother told that they can adopt a child. She doesn’t care about origin of her grandchildren, the important thing is my uncle and mu aunt can live together and have baby to taking care of. However, my uncle said no. He doesn’t want to raise a baby who hasn’t blood relative. My aunt and uncle aren’t strong enough to over society’s judgment. Now, they don’t live together any more. Both of them are single now. I believe that they’re still in love. But they can come back together. Infertility, wrong attitude of surrounding people and their weak emotion of couple are the cause of their sadness.

  • having children should be optional .
    governments should only allow people to have children, if they’ll provide healthy secure environment for them

  • Thanks for your sharing. This spotlight is what I want to say. In fact, I never think I am an infertile person, but my doctor says that. Both my families are hoping for a child from us. And it makes me feel shame.
    Sometimes, my friends ask me about pregnancy. These questions make me feel anger but I don’t show it. I still smile and try to forget it.
    Sometimes when I heard one of my friends has a baby, I feel jealous, it is not a good feeling, I know.
    I hope in the near future, I will have a my own children.

    • Hugs and love from all of us here at Spotlight English to you! Tomorrow, you might like to hear our conversation about Infertility on YouTube. Adam talks about his personal experience with infertility. Just visit our YouTube channel at We will hope with you.

    • Dear Anna,
      Do not be worry, everything will be OK.
      Having a child is wonderful thing but it is not all.
      Our life exits so many other wonderful things and you should open your mind and love to focus on other things rather than waiting your child.
      Of course, you will wait for your baby but do not focus on only this thing. If your baby does not come, it is not serious. having a baby is a option, it is not must.
      From a Vietnamese woman with love for you!

  • I know a couple that has a problem with infertility. After trying to have a baby they decided to adopt. After they adopted two boys, they had a baby. I think that after adoption, they were free of their emotional illnesses.

  • Thank you Spotlight team ⚘⚘⚘
    Really it is important topic
    There are so much from men and women suffer of infertility everywhere

  • yes I know, my friend has struggled to have a baby, he went to a hospital for treatment infertility but unfortunately not able to have baby.
    also in my area there isn’t centers for give support for infertility.

  • Yab i knew some pepole struggle for have ababy and always i pray to god to give him what they wants becouse its so diffecult feeling and no one can help to reduse these feelings

    • Whoever tried to have children and did not succeed, let him adopt one or two children, as perhaps it is a message from God to help people in dire need of a family that loves and supports them.

  • thank you . Yes I know he’s my friend’s father to have his brothers and also traveled but it still has treatment .

  • I think the infertility is hard for any couble and I will support anyone struggle to have a baby with I can

  • Hello spotlight , thank you for this nice and very important topic. I am studying medicine now in the fourth year. I am studying obstetrics and gynecology in this semester. We studied the topic of infertility, so I was excited to hear this topic today and benefited from it and again thank you very much

  • Hi Adam ,
    As you requested to tell about what am doing right now as story , please note that am not able to do thing when your conversation with Liz going on , am so excited .
    Regards .

  • Hi Spotlight. I’m come from Vietnam. And in my country, the case infertility usually occur. There are many parents who struggled to have baby. And the rest people will adopt children from orphanage or the child of these difficult families. I have a story which i want to talk to with you. The topic is infertility. My teacher who is 35 years old and she has ability to pregnant but unfortunately her husband was infertility. She told me about this. She usually go to the hospital to concept. It’s so hurt but she try suffer. She went to the hospital within 5 years. But it is not success. Although there are many modern methods can helps have baby but i’m not sure it will success in all of the cases. I know that Designer Do Manh Cuong who has adopted children from the orphanage. I admire him. So if unlucky you were infertility. You must positive and receive better things.

  • Actually I do not know someone infertile but I think that’s something from god you can not reject it you have to come to terms with your self

  • I have a fairly successful Englishman, He and his wife always expect to have a child, but since getting married, it has been 5 years now, despite doing everything, there are still no results.
    I think with modern technology and medicine, infertility treatment will quickly have a solution

  • In my country there are many people to suffer for infertility. However, I don’t have any ideas about this metter but near for god and increase prayer and they ask and request a god give them children.In addition, they must be patience and satisfay for this fate it’s the important things helpful people on having children.

  • Yes spotlight, i know a couple who suffer with infertility and their social attitudes for more than 30 years. The couple is my maternel aunt and her husband.
    First of all, in their first years after their mariage, they noticed that they are infertile. Si, her husband’s family thought that my aunt who was infertile, they insult her and Hurt her by using a violant and agressive words. Then, she was feeling everyday Shame and very angry. She prayed a lot to Allah because she is a muslim woman and she was very passient.
    After that, It comes a day to going to a doctor consultation concerning the problems of infertility to make sure that the problems is came from my aunt system.
    Afterwards, the doctorat signal thet my aunt system is too safe and normal but the problem come from her husband, because of a ancient infection that was not treated properly that was the cause of him infertility.
    Until this time, my aunt is still with her husband. She expresses her faith to her husbant in front of him husband’s family.
    They don’t adopted any child.

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