Infertility from a Father and Therapist

Infertility from a Dad and Therapist

Written By – Paul Ledger – Accredited Psychotherapist – Team LGT

Content Warning – you may find some of the content in this blog difficult or triggering. Please read with care. 


Even before I ever met my wife, I knew that I wanted to be a dad. 

I met Sarah when I was 32 years old and when we began dating, I would ask her all the time whether she wanted to have children. As soon as we were engaged, we started planning when we would start a family. The plan was get married within a year, honeymoon, change jobs for ones with better maternity pay, sit tight for 6-months until the T&Cs kicked in, and then start trying. It was an airtight plan. It was the trying that held us back.

My brother has three children, and each child was also coupled with a miscarriage, so that was six times he managed to impregnate his wife, and just to distastefully boast, he was able to do it “first-time”. There’s no serious illnesses or instances of infertility in my family so I just reckoned we’d be fine. After all, we were young, fit, healthy, we don’t smoke or use drugs, and as we’ve had to answer repeatedly in our journey, we’ve never had any STDs, including any of the new ones that we never knew existed.

As the months rolled by it first felt like it was taking a little longer than average, like the planets weren’t aligning. Then Sarah became pregnant. But soon afterwards she miscarried days before Christmas, and I just resigned myself to the helplessness of it all. 

I know that 1/4 pregnancies result in a miscarriage so it’s remarkably common. 

The hardest thing was seeing how devastated Sarah was. 

I was asked a lot how I was doing, and I was sad, I really was, but I thought more about Sarah’s feelings than my own. On that Christmas day family members still issued us with gifts for a pending baby with the notion that it would be something for the next one. Frankly, it was just upsetting and far from inspiring. Sarah and I, and everyone else for that matter, figured if we got pregnant once then there’s no reason why she wouldn’t get pregnant next time. Next time didn’t happen for over two years.

I understand that many people don’t talk about this stuff, however, we never shied away from the topic. As a Therapist, I would always encourage someone to say and process what’s going on for them. 

But then it was the only thing that we ever talked about.  

It dictated any decision that we would make, for example, deciding not to have friends over to the house in case that became a window when we might ‘try’ to conceive. Or not go on holidays because of possible foreign diseases or getting lax with our disciplined diets. 

It was everything and it was exhausting. 

We watched a Rhod Gilbert BBC documentary on male infertility.

It was enlightening, funny, normalising, but most of all sad. Men on the show would say how their partners had said to them that “you’re the reason I don’t have children” and “I would have been better off with someone else”.  

Rhod himself had fertility issues and showcased his journey seeing Andrologists and the like. He also did a survey of over a thousand people, and no one knew what an Andrologist was, but those same people all knew what a Gynaecologists was. The statistics suggest that men are just as likely as women to be responsible for infertility in a relationship, yet almost always women have the investigations and tests and courses of treatment.  Men, overall, don’t really get checked. 

During the time we were trying we knew of a couple who were trying, and who weren’t getting anywhere.  Despite all her tests he refused point blank to have anything checked, and still to this day they never conceived. I can’t help but wonder if it might have played out differently if he did. 

I did have all the checks and tests, repeatedly so. Personally, I never minded that much. I figured it was the obvious thing to do and I wasn’t the only one being looked into. One time I was referred to as “brave”, which I thought was a bit much considering what I was asked to do with my little pot and a bit of privacy!!


The ‘trying’ stopped being fun.  

It became more of mandatory duty, which might sound like ‘poor me’, but when the sex lost its intimacy and was replaced with a sort of functionality it just turned into something else.  Transactional. 

The hardest thing for us at least was not having any guarantees.  No promise that this was going to work, and we have this shared belief that “things don’t always work out for some people”.  It seemed more and more likely that we might not become parents. 

The amount of people who would tell us that we need to “relax, and then you’ll get pregnant” was honestly, painful. So, when I would snap at them it only reinforced their recommendation that I ‘chill a little’. 

I even received radical suggestions about putting my wishes out into the universe and the universe will deliver because it would know I am ready to be a parent. My mum’s Tarot reader gave some insights which were not asked for. A friend of mine even playfully suggested that he would ‘do the deed’ with Sarah, then awkwardly laughed, but considering I’m certain he has the hots for her I knew there was a grain of truth to it too. 


I thought that people were behaving differently around me.  Like they were avoiding discussing it or keeping their happy baby news from me.

We spoke with a friend of my Mum about her IVF treatment.  The husband still to this day doesn’t like talking about it.  So much so that he apparently jumped out of a slow-moving car to avoid the conversation once. This shows just how hard it is, for men to talk about.  

She was supportive, insightful, and brutally honest about how hard it is physically and emotionally, and it could cost a small fortune. As we started our IVF journey including being asked if we were brother and sister, as “we have to ask, because I’m afraid to say that it does happen”, the Nurses identified what we had suspected from the very beginning, that Sarah might have PCOS. We said that 26 months prior, but the checks didn’t identify it.  Worst of all, it was recorded on her system in such a way that it meant that no one else thought to check it either. 

The IVF treatment was put on hold so Sarah could have one more try with medication, this time Letrazole, with frequent scans, usually before work started. She made so many sacrifices, this being one of them, and because of Covid-19, I wasn’t even allowed to come with her. 

The hardest thing for me has always been seeing Sarah hurting with this for years. 

In her more distressed states, she assumed that she was letting me down, her family down, my family down, and that her grandparents would pass before we got anywhere. At one point she even said that she would understand if I left her to begin another relationship with someone else as she had “failed”.  It was heartbreaking. 


Even being a Therapist talking to another Therapist never made us immune to the hardship that couples go through. 

Sarah did eventually become pregnant as a result of the medication. 

I don’t think I enjoyed the pregnancy if I am at all honest because I was so serious about it. The fear of something happening and us going back to nothing was always there.  It almost felt like our pregnancy was more precious than anyone else’s.  Considering it wasn’t plain sailing there was plenty to worry about. 

As I reflect back on that time now, I am reminded about something else that people would say.  “You’ll forget all about this when you have your baby”. 

Truth be told I remember it all very well. 


It was years of our life. 

I changed jobs twice in that time. It was prolonged, uncertain, and hard. There was never the right thing to say. I never knew if it was best to just listen, or to talk to her about it all, or try and distract her.  I’d keep things from her at times, like when I knew of my friends having gotten pregnant.

Now I really empathise with our friend couples who are themselves trying. I’m careful not to return any of the ill-judged remarks that we heard, which of course were meant well, but to hear “it will work out” and “try not to worry it”, and “just get drunk and you’ll relax and it’ll happen”. There wasn’t a psychosomatic component to it for us, yet comments like that suggest you have some agency in it all. 

I can only ever share my experience of things, and to that end, I think one of the best things I could do for my wife was to remain resilient, stable, and patient. I made all the changes that she asked of me like stopping drinking as much alcohol and caffeine and start drinking broth. And we swapped out all our BPA containers for glass ones. It did help her that I was invested in this. She said that she knew of other men that would have been far too insecure to have a reflexology to promote their fertility or change all their underpants for looser ones. Again, I never minded much, it helped to feel proactive.

I feel a trepidation about trying again in the future, however in the end our son was worth it, but it certainly was a long journey getting there.


What I needed to hear

From my experience, I can say that what had helped me wasn’t something blindly optimistic like “don’t worry, it’ll happen, I’m sure it will” but rather supportive and compassionate comments like “thinking of you two” or “I’m rooting for you” or “I hope that does work out for you two”. 

My advice to men struggling with Infertility 

This is a remarkably common phenomenon and there are a lot of good treatments out there.  But you cannot be in the receipt of those treatments unless you have the tests and assessments required.

For me, every time I went forward for one thing or another, it just reinforced my belief of how much I wanted to be a father, that I was prepared to do whatever it took.

None of it was painful. None of it was undignified. All of it helped me feel proactive and engaged with the process rather than leaving things to chance. 

I hope that you find value in me sharing my story.  I hope that it supports you to feel less alone.  Or, as a woman, it may give you an insight into this experience, from a father’s perspective. 

Paul x

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