Fertility resources for men

So much fertility advice and support is female-focused – and if you look at a fertility forum, it’s usually women who are there talking to one another. You could be forgiven for thinking that fertility problems only happen to women…

Recently there have been a growing number of men calling for resources aimed specifically at them, and there is more understanding that men need support too – but perhaps in slightly different ways.

I just came across this US website – http://www.dontcookyourballs.com/ which has a lot of information and useful links in a really accessible way.  Infertility Network UK’s support groups are all open to men as well as women. You may also want to check out Mensfe, books such as My Little Soldiers by Glenn Barden and some of the blogs on the male perspective –





Do get in touch if you know of any other specifically male fertility sites, and I can add them to the list.

Fertility problems affect men too

Earlier this week, I found myself talking to an audience of mainly middle-aged (and above) men about living with fertility problems and the fabulous work Infertility Network UK carries out to support people who are having trouble conceiving. I wasn’t sure how the talk would go down, but they seemed genuinely interested – although when it came to the questions afterwards they admitted it wasn’t a topic most of them had ever talked about or would know how to talk about.  There was a definite element of embarrassment at one point when I started to waffle on about sperm donation!

One of them asked about men and fertility problems and specifically whether I thought men found it difficult not to be able to have children.  They were quite surprised when I said I thought that men found it just as hard as women not to be able to have children, but that it was often more difficult for men to talk about it. For most women, talking to close and empathetic friends about fertility problems can be a real source of support but for men, discussing a fertility problem with their friends is just something most don’t do.

I’ve often wondered how best to offer more support to men as the existing support networks women use don’t seem to work for men. In all my years running support groups, I’ve seen dozens of women who’ve come along without their partners, but you don’t get men coming by themselves – although those who are there with their partners can find it really beneficial. Online forums for men don’t get used much either.

I’ve asked men what sort of support they’d like, and usually get a shrug of the shoulders – but I’ve come across a few men recently who are writing about the subject in books and blogs  – like Glenn Barden who wrote a guest blog for Fertility Matters a while back. I’ve just been in touch with another guy who has written a new book about fertility problems from the male perspective which I’ll review here once I’ve read it – but in the meantime if anyone has any other useful links or suggestions, do post them below!

A male point of view

I don’t usually include guest blogs on Fertility Matters, but today I am adding a post written by someone else because it covers an area that is so often overlooked – and that’s the male take on infertility.

It’s something we often talk about when we’re offering support to couples with fertility problems, as it’s quite true that most of the support currently available is aimed at women. The truth is that no one has yet worked out quite what kind of support men really want, and and how best to offer it to them – online forums and support groups don’t seem to work – would meeting in the pub be better? But would men really want to meet and discuss infertility in the pub? I’ve tried asking – often – but no one has ever come up with an idea that works…

That’s why I’m featuring a post today from a man – Glenn Barden – who has written a novel from a male perspective – so, over to you Glenn!

If you search for blogs on trying to conceive and infertility you will be hard pressed to find any written by men. Despite man problems accounting for approximately a third of all infertility problems you would be forgiven for thinking that infertility was a female only medical condition.

In our confessional world where everything is discussed and blogged about, male infertility feels like one of the last great taboos. And I can understand why. When my wife and I were struggling to make a baby I also found it hard to vocalize my feelings. My inability to become a father ate away at my very being.

I remember sitting in the doctors room waiting for the results of our fertility tests and praying that my sperm would not be judged to be fault and that my wife would have “the problem”. When the doctor announced my wife had polycystic ovaries I almost wooped for joy. I don’t know how I would have coped if my virility had been judged to be faulty. Imagining what it would be like for a man to be told their sperm was faulty was the basis for my novel – My Little Soldiers.

During our IVF journey and subsequently, I have met men who had sperm issues and found them to be damaged souls full of shame. I even had a mate who kept his struggles hidden from me for years for fear of the stigma. In a modern world where the role of men is being questioned by men themselves, and conferences are even being held discussing what it is to be a man, male infertility is a very useful for device for exploring modern masculinity, as well as a good arena for comic material. At its heart my novel is a love story but I wanted the comedy, much of it drawn from my own experiences, to contrast the heartbreaking tale of loss and yearning.

I hope the novel gets more men to open up about their infertility problems, and also for their partners to realise that whilst they may be on the frontline there is man next to them who is just as emotionally invested as they are.

Already one reader has said my novel made her reevaluate her own husband’s outward appearance of strength and detachment. I hope more will do the same.  

My Little Soldiers is available from Amazon here  http://amzn.to/1iFcO7T