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Question Eight

For male eyes only…

Doesn’t that sound intriguing?

This question comes from a long rant I have about an infertility book I just read that demeans the male experience during IF. I will save that rant for another day…just in case I’m wrong in my assumptions…

I’d rather ask my question first than eat humble pie later. I’m not a huge fan of pie in general.

Women have their lady-when-waiting: a special friend that they turn to for support during their IF journey. Do men speak about infertility with their friends? Do they turn to other men (or a close female friend) for support or do they speak about it merely to inform the other person? Do they find that they want to talk about it or would they rather have a male friend take them out for a round of golf to keep their mind off of it? Would men rather not speak about infertility at all and only be told when to go to appointments, have sex, etc?

If you’re a man, weigh in with your opinion. If you’re a woman whose husband doesn’t read this blog, ask him tonight. Or answer for him! I always find that I like to put the words in my husband’s mouth (I love you, sweetie)…


1 serenity { 07.17.06 at 2:38 pm }

(speaking for my man) J was distinctly uncomfortable with talking about it with just me- much less opening up to anyone else in his life.

But the more time that has elapsed, the more it seems to me like he wants to talk with someone about it – just not a woman. (My MIL and his close cousin – also female – know.)

His way of coping is to bury himself in other things and forget about it.

But I will tell you (re: your infertility book), his pain is NO LESS than mine. We may not always be on the same page all of the time, I know how deeply our infertility sears him. He wants a family as much as I do, and it very much grieves him that we aren’t there yet.

2 aah0424 { 07.17.06 at 3:01 pm }

I can’t speak for him and if I asked he would say he doesn’t really talk about it. I know he does, but it isn’t the same way women do. He knows a few guys that are going through IF right now or have recently. Basically, I think their conversations go like this:

“Anything new with the baby thing?”

“Nope, how about you?”

“Not now, my wife just had the surgery to correct the blocked tube thing.”

“Oh, I hope that things work out.”

“Yeah me too. You been fishing lately?”

It’s not deep, it’s not personal. I just suspect this is sort of how the conversation goes because he’ll tell me, “Oh so and so’s wife just had that surgery.” When I ask questions he knows nothing else so I’m assuming this is about as deep as it gets!

3 serenity { 07.18.06 at 5:42 am }

Ok, so I was WRONG yesterday when I said that my husband seems like he wants to talk to someone about our IF…

When I asked him last night, J told me that he didn’t think talking with anyone would “be cathartic” for him. He said that his way of coping is to remember that we are doing all we can to increase our chances every cycle of getting pregnant.

And he says that he knows it’s a numbers game, that eventually we’ll be on the other side of the odds. He said (and I quote) “This is statistics at its coldest – we have a certain chance of getting pregnant any month, and it doesn’t matter if we’ve been trying for 18 or 30 or 50 cycles before that. We have one chance a cycle.”

Pragmatic view, but hey, if it helps him cope, then who am I to judge?

4 C { 07.18.06 at 10:22 am }

It’s funny, but I think more men would want to talk to other men about infertility if they had the opportunity. Earlier this year I took part in a mind/body fertility class, and husbands were invited to a few of the sessions. One night our instructor had all the men go into another room to talk by themselves for a few minutes. Over an HOUR later, they still weren’t really ready to wrap things up, but the class was over so they needed to stop.

The shocking thing? They didn’t talk about sports or the weather, they talked about infertility. They talked about what it was like for them, what it was doing to their marriages, etc… It was remarkable, and no one in the class could quite believe how willing their husbands were to talk about IF. Even the instructor had never seen anything like it.

Even though men don’t seek out support for infertility the way most of us have, I’m now convinced that when the opportunity arises men DO want to talk about what they’re going through with other men who’ve been there.

5 Ellen K. { 07.18.06 at 7:07 pm }

We’re dealing with some male-factor infertility, so I relayed this question to my husband, and his answer was very blunt. To paraphrase: “I only mention it to inform someone, like if he asks whether we have kids, I’ll say ‘We’ve been trying for a couple of years.’ And I told my boss why I was undergoing surgery. But do I ever really discuss it with anyone other than you? No. Why would I? What am I going to get from that? Most men don’t know anything about it, and they just repeat insensitive jokes about my ‘boys not swimming’ and ‘Hey, let me know if you want me to do the job.’ “

Now I think my husband is pretty open about our infertility — he is always ready to answer the question of whether we want to have kids, and he seems very matter-of-fact about it — but I have several times witnessed the stupid, off-color jokes from guys in the audience. It embarrasses me; I can’t imagine how D. feels.

6 Anonymous Infertile { 07.18.06 at 7:18 pm }

Well, I copied, pasted and emailed your question to my husband who says that he was responding to me when it magically disappeared. … I think that his answer to the questions disappearing pretty much sums up his feelings. It just seeems a little too coincidental. So now speaking from past experience with him, I know that he would rather not talk about the IF stuff with me. When I try to discuss future treatments he would rather just know when the dr’s appoints are and what he has to do.
The funny part is that he will talk to perfect strangers about how we are trying to have a baby. I know this because he comes home from work telling me about how this person or that person had to use drugs to conceive. (And these are just random customers that he meets while on the job). Also, I know he also talks to the guys at work about ttc because he has told me about their struggles.

7 Richard { 07.19.06 at 6:10 am }

As a blogger I guess I’ve made it pretty obvious that I don’t have a problem talking about it with other people, men or women. That said, there are times when the topic comes around and I really don’t want to talk about it.

Most of the men that I’ve spoken to about it have shown genuine concern and a few have asked questions that I’ve been happy to discuss with them. It helps me to know that by talking with them about it they are less likely to make insensitive remarks about it in the future to other people.

Of course, there are those men with whom I’d rather not have the conversation but they’re not people whose opinions really matter to me anyway. I guess the thing is that when a man who has a problem shows other men that talking about it is not an issue for him that makes them more comfortable and keeps the conversation going.

That said, I realise my opinion is almost certainly not the norm.


8 aah0424 { 07.19.06 at 6:37 am }

I had to comment on what Ellen said about the comments like “Hey, let me know if you want me to do the job.”

When I read that it got me thinking about who we’ve talked to this about as a couple. That very thing has been said us at least twice. The really weird thing about it is that both times it was by men who dealt with IF and one also went through multple miscarriages and a stillbirth.

The only thing I can think of is that it is something in these particular guys male psyche that says, “Hey, I’ve been through this and this is how I’m bonding with you.”

I can tell when it has been said that it bothers him, but he goes right along with the joking! I’ve since told my husband that when we do get pregnant and we come across others who are dealing with IF, to remember what it felt like and show a little more sensitivity!

9 MAX { 07.22.06 at 5:13 pm }

Personally as a man and a blogger, I don’t have a problem talking about infertility.
I’d be happy to share my experience with people as long as they are genuinely interested.
Obviously if I was at a party and my male counterparts were talking about fast cars, I wouldn’t cut in and offer them to educate them about male infertility.
I am not ashamed of my infertility but it is still a private matter and something that I may discuss mostly to close friends and family as the need arise except of course on my blog where my thoughts are displayed for everyone to see.

10 DI_Dad { 07.24.06 at 7:24 am }

Just based on the response count that only 2 out of 9 respondents are male is quite standard and unfortunately normal. As Richard and Max know men usually won’t particiapte in forums like this although the number male written MFI blogs is growing.

Max, Richard and the others out there are breaking new ground for men and I think in the privacy of their own offices once the blogs are pointed out to them more husbands will read such blogs even if they won’t yet “pick up a keyboard” and joing the discussion as a blogger. It takes time.

– Eric

11 A dad someday { 08.01.06 at 2:04 pm }

Better late than never:

I am very open and communicative guy. Although I didn’t know it before I was married, my wife has told me that my ability to talk to almost anybody about anything is not universal. Of course, this can get me in trouble and I make it a habit of not knowing secrets, because I often forget that they are supposed to remain secret.

When it comes to our (my) IF I don’t routinely shout it from the rooftops. If IF has not come up in conversation previously, but I need to refer to it to make some other point, I will just casually mention that my wife and I have been trying to have kids for a couple of years and then move to my point. Often I will get a “Well it will happen when you least expect…” and that will be it.

If a friend mentions their IF situation, then I will go somewhat more detail. Since my wife has been thoroughly worked up and I know from my SA’s that while my sperm quality is not abysmal (I have heard stories of MUCH worse), it is the problem, I know the problem is me. Being a guy, I do not get a particular kick out of discuss my faults or deficiencies, so I tend to talk about it “around the edges.” This will either be in using euphemisms to refer to the details with out actually using details, or, if I need to details, it will be in a more clinical, reserved manner. Of course, this is not always true, but it the majority of the time, it works out like this.

Personally, own of biggest hurdles is talking even referentially about sex, which, boy and girls, is closely related to IF and reproduction and general. It has always that way. Because of modesty or whatever reason, it just isn’t something that I talk about.

So that is HOW I talk about IF. Now on to the WHO. Of course, I talk with my wife about it. We talk about everything, IF included. But just because we talk, doesn’t me we communicate all the time. Sometimes I think we’ve made a decision, when we haven’t. I like to talk about hypothetical situations and tend to make faster decisions. She doesn’t and doesn’t. But overall, I think we do a good job.

The next closest people I talk to are my 2 best guy friends. They certainly do not get the detail my wife does, but we talk about some of the deeper issues. Next in line would be other friends and then probably last is my family. They really don’t get much info beyond the fact that we are dealing with it as best we can. I don’t know why that it, because I usually tell my family lots of stuff. Maybe because, unlike my friends, they actually have a vested interest in us having kids.

And finally, although I do not keep it up like I did, I would say that starting this blog is the best thing I have done to communicate with people about our IF. It is great to know there are others out there like myself.


(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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