It takes balls…

This is part two of our two-part feature on male factor infertility issues. Yesterday I shared an article about what it’s like for men dealing with infertility. (Click here to catch up.) Today, my husband is guest posting to give us his personal take on it. We hope you’ll enjoy and share your thoughts with us.

They are THE symbol of virility. And, for the man who really wants to make a “statement” about his manhood, he can even hang a pair from his truck bumper. Regardless of what that statement might be (that’s a blog post for another board/time), as a man who has struggled with male-factor infertility (MFI), I find the truck nut statement, regardless of what it might be, confusing. Do the balls really make the man? If so, what does that mean for a man who may be struggling to “do his part” in conceiving a child? What I’ve learned on my journey with MFI is that it’s not the circumference of one’s testicles that makes the man, but the size of his… I’m getting ahead of myself.

First, a little about my story.

It was December of 2010, Chandra and I had been married for two and a half years when we miscarried. Yes, “we.” We miscarried after months of preparations, procedures and counseling with a fertility specialist. We. Nothing can prepare you to “be a man” in the midst of a miscarriage. I’ll never forget that night: running to Walgreen’s and buying multiple pregnancy tests to “make sure” that it wasn’t a misreading; sitting in the hall as Chandra took the tests; barging in when she started bawling; and, holding her as we cried in each other’s arms on the bathroom floor.

I wish I could wax eloquently about the emotions that led to my decision to get tested. The fact of the matter is that I couldn’t bear to see my wife so heartbroken again. I had to do something. And, that something was making sure I was “doing my part.” After several “complete” examinations (and I mean complete—in 21 years when I turn 50, I’ll know exactly what to expect), it was determined that I had varicoceles that were overheating “the boys.” Surgery was the only option: a same-day surgery with a small incision just below the belt line. February of 2011 I had the surgery. I had to be horizontal for a week and no “heavy-lifting” for a week after that. Since I work in a very public setting, and I was out for two weeks, news quickly spread about me being “laid up.” And, though this was a private matter, the rumors became very public. People were spreading unflattering rumors about my balls. Seriously, I’m a pastor not a porn star. It was strange that otherwise great people felt it their responsibility to provide commentary on something they knew nothing about. The rumors were embarrassing and spread quickly. Nevertheless, I stayed quiet and let the rumors circulate and run their course without saying much of anything. But, I shouldn’t have. I should have said something then, but I didn’t. So, I’m going to say it now…

Male factor infertility doesn’t make you less of a man.

Manhood is not defined by the circumference (or the productivity) of the testicles hanging between your legs (or from the bumper of your truck!). The true measure of a man is his ability to see the truth of a situation and do something about it.

Male factor infertility is a real issue that we (especially men) can’t ignore. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine:

“about one-third of infertility can be attributed to male alone factors.”[i]

It’s a common issue. By saying and doing nothing, we are diminishing our manhood. Denying the truth of a situation doesn’t help anyone. Let me be clear: being open about and dealing with male factor infertility will “take a lot of balls.” It takes courage to talk about, find answers to, and go through treatments (if there are any) for MFI; but, in the end, it’ll make us all better men.

Male factor infertility isn’t easy to talk about. I know that. This is really the first time in three years that I’ve written or spoken so openly about it. I know, statistically, I’m not alone on this journey, but there aren’t many other men who are willing to talk about male factor infertility. “It takes balls” to tell your story. I’ve found and shared mine. Will you?

What’s your story?


Has male-factor infertility affected or influenced the way you understand manhood?

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daddy unicornChandra is a Mom and Foster Mom. She holds a Master’s degree in Theology and is particularly interested in the theology of infertility. Chandra’s husband has *balls* and she is so crazy in love with him it’s not even funny. She occasionally attempts to make sense of all those things, and more, over at her blog, MetholicBlog. She also shares embarrassing stories about her husband and unicorns, because yeah, he’s so manly he plays toy unicorns with his daughter, Stella, and they have magical adventures together.


[i] “Men’s Health: Male Factor Infertility” at OSU.edu <http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/mens_health/male_factor_infertility/Pages/index.aspx> Accessed June 19, 2013.

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Comments

  1. “The true measure of a man is his ability to see the truth of a situation and do something about it.” <– AMEN!

    What an awesome post, Jacob. Thank you so much for sharing your story!! My husband had a hard time even giving his "samples" and hoping that the numbers would be good – I can't imagine his reaction if they hadn't been. It's interesting/sad how much our society's perception of a person's "manhood" or "womanhood" is tied to our fertility.

  2. It does take balls….big brass ones 🙂 I’m so impressed and inspired by this post. To be so honest and candid with everything about your story. I agree with Josey about that particular line: “The true measure of a man is his ability to see the truth of a situation and do something about it.”

    When we were struggling, we didn’t know where the problem was, in fact we still don’t officially have a diagnosis. But when the time came, my husband was more than willing to be tested, and re-tested, and re-tested again, just to be sure. I think Chandra is amazingly blessed to have a man with your strength and perseverance with whom to play the game of life. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  3. We are a MFI family, and talking about MFI specifically does not happen in our house. I really, really appreciate your willingness to speak out! My husband acted like it was no big deal, but then wanted no one knowing ANYTHING about our diagnosis. So weird since he’s not a rough and tough “man’s man.”. He would rather people think I’m the issue. I corrected that understanding on my own when it came to his family who kept saying that my body may know what to do now that we’ve had one baby via IVF. I said, “my body having been pregnant won’t fix your son’s sperm.”. YES I DID!

  4. AWESOME post!!! Thank you so much for sharing and speaking out. Damn straight that infertility absolutely does not make you less of a man (or woman). I hope your message can spread to more and more people so they can understand this as well.

    • Thanks, Fiona. I think you’re on to something: we’ve got to initiate the conversation so that people stop making ignorant assumptions about MFI and infertility in general. In the words of the my father, other people’s assumptions are just making an “ass (of) u (and) me.” Keep the conversation alive!

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