Most of the voices surrounding fertility in our society come from people with ovaries, while the other half of the equation is often silent. That is because the onus to get to the root of fertility issues is often disproportionately on the woman in a heterosexual relationship, even if the problem ends up being traced back entirely to the man (which happens 3 out of 10 times). By sharing stories and perspectives from men, it removes the stigma and normalizes the conversation about fertility in general. Here’s what men had to say about their own experiences.
There’s support out there.
“We went through support groups as a couple, but there weren't a lot of avenues, specifically for myself or for men in general. Thankfully that conversation is changing, thanks to social media forums on Facebook and other avenues, support groups through message boards, and in person, a little bit more that weren't around when I was going through the deepest parts of my infertility...The most important thing to understand is that there are the opportunities available. There are the networks available to do so, and sometimes it's just looking around and finding those, those right spots for you.”
—Author Jon Waldman, CTV News
Out of my control.
"I was embarrassed. I was disappointed in myself. I was shocked that something that we wanted to do, we couldn't do. Usually through our own hard work and grit and determination, we accomplish our goals. And this is something that I felt helpless about. It was out of my control, really."
—Athlete Brian Mazza, CNN
Fear that it’s too late.
“Not a day goes by when I don’t think about the fact that I’ve never married and had children. I think: ‘This isn’t just a worry: it’s real. It’s finished. The chances are, this isn’t going to happen.’ And friends won’t look you in the eye and tell you otherwise...People make comments like: ‘Look at Charlie Chaplin.’ (Chaplin fathered a child at the age of 73). I think, what on earth does that mean? Someone famous was medically able to have children at a certain age, and that means I’m OK to have children? I want to have children in a meaningful way … And to just dismiss it by saying: ‘Well, you can biologically have children, so it’s OK,’ is upsetting.”
—Teacher Adam (Last name redacted), The Guardian
Hang in there.
"We tried for a long time, for five years. I know people have tried much longer, but if there's anyone out there who is trying and they're just losing hope . . . just hang in there. Try every avenue; try anything you can do, 'cause you'll get there. You'll end up with a family, and it's so worth it. It is the most 'worth it' thing. I'm just so happy right now. I'm freaking out."
—Comedian Jimmy Fallon, US Weekly
Adoption is an option.
“It is a difficult time. The miscarriage thing — apparently it happens to one in three pregnancies — but it’s very, very rarely talked about. It’s almost secretive. But it’s a good thing to talk about. It’s more common and it’s tough, there’s a grieving process you have to go through...To be clear, (my wife) and I always wanted to adopt. We didn’t know where in the process that would happen, but biologically, obviously, we tried and it was not happening for us.”
—Actor Hugh Jackson, People Magazine
In Canada, around 16% of heterosexual couples struggle with infertility. By creating a space to openly discuss fertility and seek answers, we hope to even the playing field. Everyone should have a voice and the resources to seek help. For more information about fertility, go to Fertility Matters Canada, Queering Parenthood, and the Canadian Fertility & Andrology Society.