When I told him he was going to be a Daddy, this was his look…shock, terror and excitement all rolled into one! It’s not like this was a HUGE surprise, I mean, we had gone through months of infertility appointment and IVF. No matter what led up to that moment, he still had the reaction of….”this just got real”.
Just like so many men, Paul was told he wasn’t going to be a Dad…well, not without a lot of money and time spent at doctor’s appointments. We were told from the beginning, when both Paul and I were told that we each had a hand in our infertility issues, that we need to go straight to IVF. There was no option for hormone shots, even IUI, we had no other options. We were both devastated, knowing how desperate we were to become parents and knowing that our love of children was a quality that had brought us together in the beginning.
I won’t sugar coat those early days of fighting, tears and sleepless nights (him on the couch). I won’t even pretend that we both dealt with this news the same way and I won’t pretend that it was easy. It was a horribly difficult time in our marriage and while all of our friends around us were having kids of their own, the aching got worse. Paul was quiet, while I talked about it a lot. I tried to find support online and through our clinic. It’s not surprising that while I did find books and chat rooms helpful, there was nothing for Paul. Men often feel isolated in their own journey through infertility. I know now that I have referred several friends on this same journey, to Conceivable Dreams. I’ve even reached out to a male family friend to help him through the process and give him insight into his wife’s sadness. The great thing is that Conceivable Dreams is available to help with both male and female infertility and offer support. Their goal is that more men feel comfortable to share their stories and know that they are not alone.
While both men and women will inevitably take the blame for the infertility, there are facts that they need to know about the true nature of these biological struggles.
Male Fertility Facts (source)
- Both men and women experience infertility. Nearly half of all infertility cases can be linked to a male problem.
- When a man smokes it increases the likelihood of infertility by 30%.
- Cancer treatments impact male fertility. Freezing sperm is an option that men should consider before cancer treatment.
- Strenuous bicycle riding or any other forms of excessive heat, such as hot tubs and laptops, can reduce sperm production.
- Certain herbal products such as Echinacea, Gingko Biloba and St. John’s Wort can reduce fertility in men.
Male Fertility Myths
- ‘Size matters’. False, except when related to the testicles. Smaller testicles have been linked to lower sperm counts.
- A man’s age does not affect childbearing. False: Waiting until after age forty can increase the risk of miscarriage and may affect the health of the newborn.
- Tight men’s underwear has no impact on fertility. False. Wearing boxers or loose underwear is advised.
- Daily intercourse is recommended to increase the chance of conception. False: Waiting two days between intercourse allows men with low sperm counts to increase their sperm count.
- Eating red meat reduces fertility. False. Although some meats contain hormones that may affect fertility. Eating red meat in moderation is healthy.
Please follow @OHIP4IVF on Twitter or the hashtag #OHIP4IVF to support government funding for IVF. You can also join the the conversation on Facebook with others who have been there or are going through infertility right now. Help other couples become parents, without the financial burden that comes with infertility.
Happy Father’s Day to my husband, a man who was meant to be a Dad. He never gave up on his dream to have a child of his own. I hope more men will realize their dreams before this day next year.
Conceivable Dreams is a broad-based organization of patients, family members, health professionals and other supporters dedicated to achieving equitable access to funding for in vitro fertilization for men and women facing fertility challenges.
*I am a proud member of the Conceivable Dreams blog team, and have been compensated for this honest post.