The Silent Male Fertility Struggle | Co-post by Chris Edwards | myMindBodyBaby
Is your guy silently suffering?
Support for men navigating through fertility challenges is almost unheard of. At least it was for me during my 2 years of fertility treatments, therapists, doctor appointments, online forums, google searches – no one, maybe not even me, asked how he was doing. Fast-forward to the present day, now living and breathing my business all centered around providing support for women going through fertility treatments, and I continue to see the lack of support for our guys.
This is what Chris, the man, and father-to-be behind @ittakes_three shares…
“Though women are starting to find their voice (within the fertility space), and rightly so, awareness for infertility and the support for all who struggle is still behind where it needs to be. Society needs to change; awareness for men’s fertility challenges is even further behind that of women. In fact, I would argue it’s struggling to even get on the map. Men often have this bravado that makes it difficult to show feelings; a notion that they need to keep that classic British stiff upper lip and not let emotion show.”
Finding a voice
We know that fertility challenges are HARD.
We are aware that women are suffering immeasurable losses in some form or another.
But are our guys suffering too? Chris shares…
“While we’re not the ones that have to constantly stab ourselves with needles, suffer the physical pain of miscarriage, and deal with pregnancy, we are just as much emotionally involved in the journey and therefore as likely to suffer mentally.”
Support for the guys
- Give him a voice. Chris says: “After our second round, everything changed. After several months of IVF, and when hope had begun to fade, everything started to feel more real. As someone that has previously suffered from mental health issues, I needed to vocalize. With no clear routes for support, I felt I had no choice but to turn to an invisible audience and start to talk on Instagram. For me, Instagram saved my sanity and gave me the safe space I needed to be open, honest, and get the support I needed from people going through the same thing. To begin with, my entire audience was women. They were the ones supporting me, giving me advice, and encouragement. Over time, I’ve seen a shift.”
- Give him opportunities to open up. Some may find their own relationship can be a source of more support and comfort – if both partners are open and honest about what they are feeling. People are not minded readers, and sometimes simple open dialogue can work wonders. We asked Amira Posner from @healinginfertility to give some suggestions for increasing relationship communication during fertility struggles. She suggests giving the “I Hear You” technique a try ==> One partner speaks for 10 minutes about their feelings, thoughts, and whatever is on their mind while the other partner listens without interrupting. The only thing the listening partner can say is “I hear you.” And then they switch!
Ask yourself what you need to feel more supported. More answers from your healthcare provided? Increased empathy from your partner? A little more leeway from your workplace to make it to appointments? Identifying what you need is the first step in taking action to get what you need. And if you’re just not sure what you need, but know you need something we are here for you – send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Edwards is the man and IVF father-to-be behind @ittakes_three. He uses his Instagram account to highlight his own IVF journey while bringing awareness to infertility from the often-overlooked male perspective. For Father’s Day we asked him to share his thoughts on the (often) silent male struggle during infertility and how he found sharing his journey has helped him personally.