Any guys out there struggling?

I am a male who has been suffering through infertility with his wife for the last 2 years.

After numerous tests and probings my wife's hormone levels were diagnosed as high TSH & Prolactin levels at the start of this year and despite getting treatment we have still failed to conceive which was one of the lowest points for us...having thought we had cracked it. My tests all came back ok, and I have even got them done again just to double check.

We have started to look into IVF and get one free round on the NHS but were just delivered another crushing blow when they found my wife also has low AMH levels (low egg reserve) she is only 31, after which the doctor said that our chances with IVF have now dropped from 50% to 30%....

Needless to say we are both on the floor...

I am quite depressed about it and I also don't feel too good about the IVF either as it seems very unatural to me - all the drugs they give her to stimulate the production of over 14 eggs in one go... Yet alone the fact that we now have an even more reduced chance of it working anyway. The relationship is under quite considerable strain as you can imagine.

I am trying to support her but I could also really do with some support too, especially would be good to hear from any men who have been in a similar position - if there are any out there?

Kind regards

Leo

15 Replies

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  • Not sure if you'll find too many men in here! So, i'll just respond hoping it will help you lighten up a bit. Firstly, men equally get distressed and depressed with infertility, even if it's not on male factors. I guess they just play too tough to accept it. Basically, they are more in pain. Women, they tend to think one dimensional! When they have infertility issues they are trapped in a limbo - thinking over and over, crying and being upset over "I can't have a baby" feelings. This quite turns us insane; I've been through it myself to know it more closely.

    For the guy, it's two prongs of grief - see his lady love upset (it gets horrible) and deal with the failures of TTC. Naturally, they are emotionally pushed and pulled to extremes. Take a trip. Talk to your SO about just being the lovers for a while. That should help unwind the stressed up relationship a bit.

  • I agree with AmbK. My hubby was particularly upset at seeing what I was having to do with IVF, and the main cause of our problems was male factors so he felt like he was causing it. I can completely understand that it must be hard supporting your wife and that you could do with a support network of your own.

    In terms of supporting your wife, all you can do is let her know you're there for her if she needs to talk - if she was anything like me she'll probably go through a wide range of emotions from upset to anger to fear to excitement that it might actually happen and it can be difficult to know what she's feeling when so just listen and hold her when she needs it. Depending on what protocol you use the side effects of the drugs can make her tired and feel ill so for me little things like my hubby cooking dinner or cleaning without having to be asked made a real difference. I know you've said you don't have any male factors at play but I would also say try and show her that you're taking it seriously by looking after your sperm's health - the sperm lifecycle is 100 days so for the 3 months before your treatment is due to start then cut out alcohol and caffeine (and smoking if you do) and try and eat healthily. It will a) give your sperm the best chance and b) your wife will probably be doing the same to prepare her body for IVF so she will feel she's not in it alone.

    In term of your own support network there are guys on here from time to time so you might be able to link in with them. Or could you find out if there are any support groups which are local to you? If there are any close friends you have you might find they're more understanding than you might think. My hubby talked to a couple of his closest friends and I think he found that helped.

  • Hi Leo, am also not a man but there are some on here sometimes. I think if your wife wants to have the treatment then that is her choice in relation to actually taking the medicine, having weighed up the risks. But obviously you both need to be comfortable with it. I don't think ivf is particularly dangerous or anything. It's all done under the care of a consultant. It is a big step but the odds you've been told are actually still pretty good and I suppose it's necessary to think about whether you might regret not trying. It is a hard process emotionally but you have each other and this forum is a fantastic place to get support too. Try to be kind to each other and yourselves. You need each other. We're just waiting for a frozen embryo transfer with an embryo created using donor eggs and my hubbys sperm - it's amazing the things ive found we've managed to get our heads around.

    I wish you both lots of luck. Look after yourself.

  • Hey I am so pleased in some ways to see a man on here..not pleased you are going through this crap of course but pleased you found us. Eventhough there are not many men on here but one fab guy sanj76 has always been fab on here and his wife is currently expecting through ivf, there are many fan women who lots of them have male partners so we know it from the other side which may be a help to you. The feelings you and your wife have are both normal please be reassured by that. Once you get going on ivf I feel although not natural cause of the drugs it is just a different way of getting the embryo to you and is all actually quite amazing what they can do. Please try not to get hung on numbers and statistics if possible as there are so many stories on here of success despite adversity. My hubby has talked to very few men but like above was great just round the house etc without being asked and we generally support each other. I always read things out from on here to him. A good book rooms read about egg quality is it starts with the egg..I also hear the his and hers guide to ivf is good .keep in touch and any questions ask away xx

  • Thank you for the mention Vic77, I just feel with the wife going through this challenging journey to ultimately get what we all desire, a beautiful child, as a male, it's also vital for me to try and understand what it is she is going through, most women have plenty to take on and deal with and I personally feel, that us guys should be as informed and educated to what they are going through and how we can be supportive.

    I totally agree that one should not get hung up on statistics but most of us only have that to rely on so it's quite "normal" to base things on that until you have gone through that experience.

    As you mentioned.... the wife is 36 weeks today and without blowing my own trumpet, I feel that being "involved" has really helped us both.

    All continues to go well, and one thing for sure us we will never ever ever forget the support many of you guys have shown us throughout and likewise although our journey is near completing, I feel that rd vital to share our experiences and continue to help those that are on this journey. One thing I have learnt throughout this whole process is the ability to remain patient and calm is crucial.

    Yeah you'll question every twitch, every pain, every ache.... and so you should (as I said this is all new to us all), but the body is design to accommodate more than we believe it should....and as you continue to go through this journey, you will read experiences, watch videos (which to some extent helps), but also know that not two people are every designed the same, your experience may we'll be different from the next, but the idea is not to COMPARE but to SHARE.

    We continue to wish everyone all the very very best and hope you ALL are as blessed as we are...

  • Well said sanj76 . πŸ˜€x

  • 30% chance is still a chance.

    Have you researched DHEA in helping with the low AMH. I am a poor responder. It didn't seem to matter how many drugs you threw my way, no improvement. I got 1 follicle occasionally 2. My last round I took DHEA as requested by the specialist and I had 7 follicles! It's still experimental, but it helped loads. Side effects suck though...

    Round 6 yielded 1 egg and it turned into our little girl.

    Round 8 with DHEA 3 embryos, 1 used and 2 still in the freezer.

  • Hi Leo

    Read the get a life his and hers guide to ivf - it's got chapters in it written by a man for men - it's a really good and interesting read and is light hearted.

    I'm prepared to do whatever it takes to have a baby and ivf is now my only chance. I was seriously distraught when I found out in January that I can't conceive naturally but I've had all sorts of procedure and surgeries and I'm now being positive about the next step to getting our baby. My boyfriend works very hard and does long hours and is exhausted- and it's been a hard time for both of us - we have argued and cried but he's supportive and positive that there's still hope. Ivf is amazing, if it's your chance at getting a baby, grab it with two hands - good luck x

  • Hello! Also not a guy I am afraid. But just wanted to say hi and that I think there are a lot of us here who have other halves who have felt very similar to you.

    My husband and I are currently 9 weeks pregnant after 3 years trying to conceive with unexplained infertility and our second cycle of IVF. I work in healthcare and so for me I don't find IVF weird, but my husband has voiced that he struggles with the concept, and as you say finds it unnatural. I don't know the answer to this (although am hoping that once a baby is born, the exact way they got there will not be an issue!) but you are not alone in the way you feel.

    There is a great book called test tubes and testosterone, which describes the IVF journey through a blokes eyes. I downloaded it onto our kindle hoping my husband would read it, but he didn't! You can drag a horse to water but you can't make them drink! But I enjoyed it, and think it gives a good insight.

    Remember the 30% success rate is for each cycle, I found it helpful to focus on the success rate over 3 cycles which will be higher so hopefully you can feel more positive.

    I also want to say I think it is very normal for your relationship to be under strain. It is something that is not often mentioned on this forum. I love my husband very much and on the whole he has been supportive, but we are very different and are dealing with this shitty situation in different ways. It makes it difficult to understand each other sometimes. I guess it is important to listen to one another and try and be open about how you feel. I have struggled to know how to support my husband as he is a rather closed book. So let your wife know what you need. As others have said, she will be experiencing this with the delights of female hormones too, so try and be understanding! Also just recognising that what you are going through is shit and will inevitably put strain on your relationship both sexually and emotionally is important, and is hopefully something you will get through together.

    Good luck. I hope you find some men to chat through things with. And us girls are here anytime too! X

  • Hi Leo - I thought I'd better respond as an actual man! Sorry this is a long post...

    My wife and I found out that we wouldn't be able to conceive naturally a few years ago. Our circumstances were a bit different because the issues were all with me - low sperm count and poor quality. We've had two rounds of IVF (ICSI because of the sperm quality), the second of which was successful - my wife is currently 21 weeks pregnant and due in January.

    Firstly, the process: it was really hard on my wife, and also on me more than I was expecting. The drugs can be pretty unpleasant (she was totally wiped out for a few weeks first time round and was off work; second time better because they changed the drug regime), and the injections are hard - I actually did them for my wife because she wasn't able to do it herself. The things that were hardest though is that time slows to a glacial pace while you're doing it - the six weeks or so it took first time felt like years - and it can be a complete rollercoaster as things work more or less well. For us it was just a necessary evil - we knew we wanted a family and it was the only way we could do it - but it wasn't fun.

    For me the emotional side was much harder though. Recognising of course that it's the woman who goes through the worst of it, there are definitely things specific to being a man which make the process harder. I found it pretty much impossible to talk to friends and family apart from my wife - not least because the issues were with me and people's reactions to male infertility can be weird. And there are a whole bunch of assumptions made throughout - that it's more a 'women's issue', that generally it's the woman who's 'desperate' for a child and the man's not so bothered (whereas in our case it was every bit as painful for me and was about what we both wanted), and a lack of wider support networks - i.e. how few men post on these kind of sites (this is even my first post!). I think the answer is probably that we all need to be more willing to talk about it openly and discuss how we feel, but I didn't practice that myself. We're having a boy and it's definitely something I think about a lot now in terms of role modelling for him.

    Having decided not to talk about it more openly, even with my wife for a long time I thought that supporting her meant trying to seem 'strong' and so not showing how I was really feeling. I thought somehow that me being upset too would make it worse (sadness squared!) but after our first round failed I really couldn't sustain that any more and got pretty depressed. In a strange way this actually made it better for both of us - we were able to share in it rather than me feeling like my role was just a supporting one, and I think it made her feel better to know I was feeling the same way and going through the same things. The other thing I did was get some help with my mental health. We had a session of joint counselling attached to the IVF process which didn't really help at all - but separately to that I got referred for cognitive behavioural therapy through my GP which helped me to recognise and deal with my issues as best as possible!

    Anyway, upshot is it's really hard, and I'm not sure there's any right way through apart from trying to keep being really honest with each other...

  • Thanks so much Steve for sharing. I have read all these posts out to my husband and huge congrats on your pregnancy πŸ˜€

  • Thank you!

  • Just want to say thank you for these very honest posts. My husband has definitely taken on the supportive role ever since our loss in April and is reluctant to allow himself to think too much about what we are going through. When I've reassured him that he can speak to me at any time about how he is feeling he just says he is trying to be positive and doesn't want to allow himself to get upset at this stage. My husband is extremely laid back, everyone who meets him says so, but I do worry that deep down it is putting enormous stress on him emotionally. He is beginning to become more and more nervous about day to day things like if I am feeling unwell, I don't know how he will be when it comes to injections and the possibility of egg collection (if we get that far!), etc.

    Anyway, I totally agree about the lack of support and awareness for men. I don't actually think my husband has spoken to any of his friends about what he's going through. He also has male factor issues - low count and poor quality, and I think he feels embarrassed (which he shouldn't). I have problems too which came to light later and to be honest I think he felt a bit relieved when he realised he wasn't the only one with issues.

    Congratulations on your pregnancy Steve, it gives me hope. And Leo, wishing you so much luck as you move forward whatever you decide to do. It's certainly far from easy but the most important thing is you and your partner come out strong at the end, regardless of the outcome. X

    P.s. I recently ordered a great book called His and Hers IVF Survival Guide (I think that's the name!) and highly recommend it.

  • Hi Leo

    Another female response 😊 it's lovely for you to reach out for help, it's a really crappy process doing ivf and we all need support sometimes. I think back to when we were first trying and i can't believe how much our relationship has strengthened and improved because of our struggles. Our fertility problems are unexplained but my husband has poor motility and morphology, but it's really important not to blame anyone for the issues with conceiving. We had icsi which was successful but sadly ended in a miscarriage recently, we've found you need to prepare yourself for any eventuality and the support you give each other is the most important. I personally found icsi OK, both the drugs and the procedures. My only slight annoyance with my husband was him complaining about appointments and how inconvenient they were. I have a more flexible job than him so easier for me to take time off, so just make sure you save up your holiday leave! I know this is probably not completely helpful advice, but just be sure to be there for each other xxxx

  • Leo.... please feel free to inbox me your contact details matey and if I can I will try to help

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