“ So when is it going to be your turn?” Jim tells me his most hated posed question why he and Cathy do not have kids. Then, they will turn around and say ‘Next year it will happen.’
Jim and Cathy met through a blind date and were married two years later. They scrimped and saved to buy their dream house to fill with kids. Both had great and well-paying jobs. They went on vacations and weekend getaways as they knew it would decrease when kids arrived. They prepared the house, and enjoyed the last moments of their alone time together.
Like any couple who planned to have kids, they actively pursued getting pregnant. Cathy took meticulous notes on the calendar, positive that they would have a child in no time. It did not happen.
When they began to tell family the truth about not being able to get pregnant, everyone focused on Cathy, making sure that she was okay. No one offered Jim a shoulder, let alone an ear.
“I felt like it was my fault.” He admits.
There is a lot of information out there about female infertility, but very little about male. It could be a stigma, but regardless it is very real: Male infertility has many causes–from hormonal imbalances, to physical problems, to psychological and/or behavioral problems. More so, fertility reflects a man’s overall health. The following list highlights some lifestyle choices that negatively impact male fertility: smoking which significantly decreases both sperm count and sperm cell motility, prolonged use of marijuana and other recreational drugs, alcohol abuse, inadequate Vitamin C and Zinc, tight underwear, exposure to environmental hazards and toxins such as pesticides, lead, radiation, and excessive stress. Yet, men can live in healthy environments and lead healthy lifestyles and experience infertility.
Many couples cannot conceive without help. The cost of one round of IVF can be as high as $10,000 to $13,000, with fertility medications included. As a result, many couples desperate to conceive remortgage houses just to pay for the procedure. Couples will risk maternal health by transferring multiple embryos in an effort to make the most of their investment. This is a risky practice that often results in extremely high health care costs and multiple births. While twins and triplets are adorable, they carry greater lifetime health costs, and are often born premature. Many groups throughout Canada are strenuously advocating for public health care to cover the cost of IVF where it is the suggested course of treatment. IAAC – the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada recommends that three rounds of IVF be covered through provincial health care funding with single embryo transfer (SET) as the standard. An IAAC survey recently indicated as many as 73% of British Columbians believe the province should adopt public funding for in vitro fertilization (IVF), similar to the policy in Quebec. In 2010, Quebec became the first province in Canada to provide universal access to IVF through a policy that covers the cost of treatment and mandates single embryo transfer. This policy has led to a reduction in multiple pregnancies from approximately 30 % to well under 10%, resulting in better health outcomes for mother and baby, and an estimated cost savings to the health system of $30-$60 million per year since the program’s inception.
I thanked Jim for his time to chat. He brought up a very common feeling in many men who want to be dads. Like moms who just want to be moms, childless dads count.