By: Christine Villeneuve
Surrogate Support Worker for CSC
As a woman and a surrogate, I can relate to the roller coaster of emotions that women must go through in the years of facing the battle of infertility. The waiting, the wishing, the heartache. I can picture their tears and their cries as they struggle through monthly cycles, PCOS, miscarriages, and all the issues that come with IVF treatments. But what gets lost in many of these heartbreaking situations are the men, the husbands and fathers who are just as engulfed in the sorrow as their partners.
Mike, a friend and intended father, writes about his experience with infertility, “I am a fixer. I fix things. In my career, I fix people’s computer problems. I like it. I like it when they are happy I fixed it. It gives me some kind of perverse validation that I am doing good things but this, I cannot fix this; ever. No amount of hugs, holding, reassurance, love or positivity will just fix it and it absolutely kills me. I stay as positive as I can for my wife because she needs that. She needs someone in her corner. Someone to pick up the pieces when it all comes crashing down. Does it get tiring? Yes. Am I frustrated that all we ever see is one line on the urine test? Absolutely.”
In Canada, almost 1 in 6 couples suffer from some form of infertility and of that nearly 30% of the time it is issues with the man that is at the root cause. This number is growing each year. There are many causes of male infertility from anatomical problems like hormonal imbalances and testicular abnormalities, to environmental issues which include exposure to heavy metals and industrial chemicals. Also physical considerations like weight, stress and drug/alcohol use can all come into play when assessing the cause of male infertility. Finding the exact reason for male infertility can be complicated.
When speaking about his personal struggles with infertility, Chris, an Intended Father working with CanadianSurrogacy Community, writes “We all hear constantly about men who father children late in life, so as a man in his early 40’s I figured I would be fine. Upon finding out that that wasn’t the case, I felt like many men would, that I had let my partner down. The male ego is a fragile thing and it took me a day or two to overcome the bruise that it had incurred. The path through fertility and surrogacy has many challenges. Each step that one takes comes often on the heels of a previous failure”.
The tough exterior of masculinity is a hard façade to keep up. Men generally seem to distance themselves and suppress emotions in order to keep up a brave front for their partners. They use planning to help them create temporary solutions. It is important for men to have the proper support systems in place and to also have access to the proper counselling to deal specifically with both the before and during aspects of trying to conceive.
Chris goes on to say, “More and more is coming out all the time to highlight how often the male side is as much of an issue as the female is. I like to think that this levels the field. Women have been made to suffer under great strain and pressure for decades, thinking that the burden was theirs alone, but not so. Perhaps a greater empathy for those women will emerge as more comes to light on the males’ role. It doesn’t change the difficulties in the desire to reach a certain outcome, but with increased knowledge of the actual causes, perhaps we all stand a much better chance in getting there”.
Sometimes, it takes more than 2 people to make a baby. The physical and emotional toll on both men and woman are mutually exclusive and equally heartbreaking. It is imperative to recognize each potential parent for their unique set of circumstances and treat them as such. After all, we all really only have one end goal here – to make a baby and carry on the tradition of love and family.