Lisa Newton is a writer, a blogger and fellow infertile. She enjoys interviewing people who have experienced infertility firsthand. This interview is with Jay – a man who’s willing to speak out about male factor infertility.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m an Aussie guy living in Melbourne Australia. I’ve been married for three and a half years and work a cushy desk job in a small insurance company.
I’m obsessed with video games and write game related content for a small community site with some mates.
How long have you been trying to conceive and what issues are you facing?
We’ve been trying to conceive for two years in total, one of which has included IVF. We’re currently in the middle of our fifth cycle. With us the issue is on my side with an incredibly low sperm count for unexplained reasons.
How did you initially react when you found out about your male factor infertility?
The short answer: really really badly.
The long answer: There was a long road of depression, anger and some alcohol abuse that took me a long time to get over. I didn’t deal with it very well at all.
I found that support for guys in this situation was really limited so there was a strong sense of isolation in the first year.
Thankfully I’m past that stage and a large part of that is owed to my blog. When I started writing I found that it did wonders for my state of mind.
Do you and your wife cope with infertility in the same way or do you handle it differently?
Definitely differently! My wife loves to talk about things in great detail. She plans every little thing down to the finest detail so she always knows what to expect.
On the other hand, I just try to deal with things on my own and in my own time. Rather than face the music I tend to just divert my attention elsewhere. Certainly not the smartest approach but it’s just how I’m built.
Considering that I’m the one with the fertility issue but it’s my wife that has to go through all the discomfort, my wife has been incredibly strong through this whole thing. A lot stronger than I could ever be.
The overwhelming majority of infertility blogs are written by women. What made you decide to blog about your experience?
When I first found out that there was an issue I turned to the always reliable internet for help. But I wasn’t chasing medical info or generic advice from some psych or doctor that hadn’t been through it themselves. I wanted to hear from other guys in this situation via blogs and forums.
Sadly I didn’t find anything.
But I knew that there had to be literally thousands of guys out there in the same situation so I wanted to find a way to let them know that they’re not on their own and there’s other guys that know what it feels like.
Since releasing my blog (each post is delayed by exactly one year) the response has been fantastic. Friends of mine, some who I barely know outside of forums and video games have approached me with their own stories. Some have been inspired to tell their own stories (fertility and otherwise) and face their demons. I’m so proud that this little project of mine has been able to help someone.
What advice would you give to other men or other couples with male factor infertility?
For guys: As difficult as it may be, let rip with your emotions. Don’t bottle them up because it will not end well.
Write a blog, call your best mate, do SOMETHING!
Talk to your partner but also have someone else to vent to.
For couples: don’t be discouraged when it doesn’t work right away. Eventually IVF will stop feeling like something out of the ordinary and will just become part of your routine like putting on your socks or cooking dinner.
Surprisingly it’s at this point when it gets easier. You learn to relax and just start playing the cards that you’re dealt.
Don’t let it take over your lives. Keep doing the things that you love and try not to put anything on hold. This will reduce your stress levels thus increasing your chances of success.
How have you taken care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually during your struggles
The main physical change I’ve made is that I’ve stopped drinking. It’s terrible for sperm production so leading up to and during a cycle I stop all together. When we’re not in a cycle I’m very cautious of how much and how often I drink.
I also try to work out at the gym quite a bit when not on a cycle but stop when approaching sperm deposit day. Increased body temp and high impact exercises (like running) aren’t good for the family jewels.
Needless to say the best thing for me on an emotional level has been my wife. Her strength through all this has been unbelievable and inspired me on several occasions to harden up.
Putting all my thoughts, into writing has also been a big help. It’s a great way for me to vent and generally every post I write makes me feel a lot better than I did before I started writing.
And finally, there has been one friend of mine who, particularly in the early days has been a great support. As much as it’s good to speak to people who understand what you’re going through it’s also good to talk to someone on the outer. Someone who can just listen.
The people around you are the greatest asset a person can have.
What has been your lowest point and how did you survive it?
As mentioned above, before I started writing I went through a long depressive stage. I hated myself and projected that on to everyone else, including my wife. I drank too much and made a fool of myself in several occasions as a result. I tried to find someone of something to blame. This went on for almost a year and it’s something that I’m really ashamed of.
But I can safely say that I’ve learned from the experience and can handle these things a lot better now.
Have you been able to find a “silver lining” in your infertility?
Something like this is always going to either make or break a relationship. My wife and I went through some tough times, especially in the beginning. We had massive fights over little meaningless things.
But we’re still together and very much in love. Having come this far shows how strong we both are. Her ability to still love me when I’m at my worst is the most impressive thing I have ever witnessed and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
Do not stop.