If only I was Tyrian Lannister of Game of Thrones, knowing things about who was going to win the war for the iron throne instead of this taboo topic of infertility. If someone five years ago would have told me – a marine and total man-child – everything I know now about infertility, I would’ve laughed in their face.
When you think about infertility you usually think about the perspective of the woman. There is a lot more going on in the uterus than there is in the testicles. The human woman’s reproductive organ is a mystery even today. But having been through the process of trying to get pregnant with my wife, I can tell you, it sucks for the guy, too.
Here’s a few reasons why:
1: You blame yourself. Self-blame is probably the most common symptom that is experienced during the journey of infertility. You get your sperm tested and retested. Some of us guys have even had surgery due to other ehem….complications (I had big old varicose veins in my balls). Even after all that surgery, my sperm motility (how many viable and quality sperm I produce along with the way they move) only went up to about 16 percent. That isn’t great and is considered low. So the blame train seems to still be set on plowing down on the guy, in his own mind and possibly even his partner’s. That type of negativity can be incredibly detrimental to your mind. It can be detrimental to your mind and your body. These thoughts can in fact be poisonous enough to make your body pull a fast one on you and impact your body’s ability to function in a way that allows for successful conception.
2. You get surgery. I mean, this is a no brainer in so far as how much it sucks. You have to have a physical that could reveal even more issues with your body, complicating your life just that much more. You have to go under anesthesia, which I’m sure is not something anyone wants to do. And at the end of the day, no matter what side of the gender table you are on, you are left with terrible, angry scars. Scars that turn your stupid body into a tapestry of sad comedy. You can look like my wife, whose belly looks like a smiling Cyclops due to her myomectomy. Or you could, in fact, look like me; an angry elephant! The removal of said varicose veins in my testicles resulted in a couple of dark angular scars over my genitals that make the portion of my body that is my pelvis look like an elephant that is either angry or sneezing. Oddly enough, this happens all the time. According to advancedfertility.com, variococeles are found in 40% of infertile men and 20% of all men in the general population. Should you get checked out for this even if you’re young? Probably. I was diagnosed with this at 26. Sadly, even though I had the surgery the damage was already done. The only side effect of this condition, you guessed it: infertility.
3. People genuinely think that there is something wrong with YOU (like you specifically as a guy). When you are married and have been for a few years, people simply expect for you and your spouse to have children. Your co-workers, family and friends find that, once you are married, you have a litter of kids and so and on and so forth. It is just what a guy does after marriage. When that ring slides down that finger, everyone in the audience thinks, “Ok! A year from now there WILL and SHOULD be a bouncing baby boy and or girl that will grace the lives of these two and that is the way the world turns in a happily ever after fashion. There was a time was that the aforementioned frame of thought was normal. It made sense and was kind of actually the way things played out. These days however, we are looking at a very different reality. Studies have shown that about one third of all infertility cases are caused by the gentleman. Those are some staggering statistics and do not bode well for the morale of dudes trying to make more dudes and dudettes.
At the end of the day, the blame shouldn’t rest on anyone’s shoulders. No one is trying to sterilize themselves. If you want to be able to conceive children and are going through the process of IVF, then you are not sitting there sabotaging your own future. It’s not your fault. Biology is not always going to work with you. In fact, biology can be rather stubborn. Guys, not being able to have your own kids is OK. It sure as hell isn’t easy to accept, but it is not your fault and you are definitely not alone. To read more of my honest candor throughout the infertility process, check out my book: “Navigating the Road of Infertility.”
Written by: Aaron Kahan