June is a month where Fathers Day is celebrated across the board! Everywhere you look and everywhere you go there are reminders to celebrate your Dad and celebrate the privilege of being a Father. However - this day is, for some, a sad and painful reminder that they have not yet been able to father a child or are battling infertility issues. Did you know that today, one couple out of every six is coping with the challenges of infertility. In approximately 30- 40% of these couples, the infertility is due to a problem on the male side.
Regardless of whether the infertility is due to the male or to their female partner or is unexplained, it is also common for men to experience a range of emotions. These feelings are often unexplained and unexpressed and may lead to behaviors and actions that are misunderstood by others.
Men are sometimes perceived as being unable or unwilling to talk about their feelings and experiences. Pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting are seen as a women’s realm and fertility and medical treatments often focus more specifically on women.
Our society also abounds with images of women as mothers, carers and nurturers much more than those of men as fathers and carers. The voices and thoughts of men are therefore often missed, silent and forgotten.
To fill this void, men who have been through the infertility journey are now starting to write about their experiences and about aspects that they have found to be valuable and supportive.
A summary of some of their ideas are:
• Men may feel a wide range of emotions, including anger, sadness, confusion, anxiety, humiliation, guilt, embarrassment and shame. Such experiences may be due to feeling one or, indeed, many of the following:
• saddened by the loss of their ability to provide for their family- “ I've let my wife down”, “I feel less of a man”
• unable to protect their partner & their couple relationship from pain & intense emotions due to the roller coaster of infertility treatment and interventions and ongoing feelings of grief and loss
• full of self doubt with the potential loss of manhood. Questions self- “who am I?”- “what is a man?”
• sexually inadequate
• a loss of identity – may feel he does not meet cultural, spiritual, family and
• community expectations of himself
• sadness due to the loss of personal dreams and expectations to be a dad
• left out of the loop – as the focus of treatment is mostly on their wife/partner
• isolated – friends & family are getting on with it and having their own children
• powerless with a lack of control – “nothing I do seems to help”
• misunderstood – by partner, family, friends, work mates
• lonely- no-one to talk to who really understands and is without judgement
• fearful- “I want a child but am afraid it might not happen” “what sort of father will I be if I ever get there?”
Tips for men:
• Acknowledge your feelings. Find ways that work for you to deal with strong emotions such as grief, depression, anger e.g. regular exercise, massage.
• Keep up social networks & interests.
• Talk to someone you know will understand
• Gain support. Work out who you can count on for emotional support & use them.
• Find the right people to talk to. Don’t be afraid to seek counselling or emotional support- either as a couple or for yourself.
• Acknowledge as a couple, that your individual experiences & responses to infertility & treatment may be quite different from each other – not better, not worse, just different.
• Take control. Work out what you can control and what you can’t.
• Nurture your relationship.
• Self care. Pay attention to your physical, mental & psychological well-being.
• Treat yourself. Remember to exercise, nurture yourself with things you love doing, consider relaxation & stress management options, eat well, & find a balance in your day-to-day life choices.
• Look after your own health. Remain aware of your own needs and wants. Supplement your diet with a fertility supplement such as PRELOX FERTILITY which offers a patented combination of Pycnogenol and L’Arginine.
• You and your partner are in this together.
• Try to balance hope with compassion.
• Try and avoid being “Mr Fix It”. Nurture yourself and your relationship. Listen without having to offer solutions.