I had a meeting with a bunch of men to explain the Fertilitities Unite Project and I wanted them to somehow understand what having fertility issues was like for a woman.
It hit me that fertility issues for me would be similar to erectile dysfunction (ED) for them.
Like, shockingly similar.
My fertility issues were not going to limit my life expectancy, but a life without children was not a life that I wanted to live. I’m not saying that I was going to kill myself over my fertility issues, I am saying that I knew that I would not be living my best, happiest life without children. And my desire to have a child would never go away and nothing else could ever replace a child in my life.
Same for erectile dysfunction for most men. Not being able to get it up and have sex is not going to affect a man’s longevity, but I am certain that most men would put being able to have sex as something that would affect his quality of life and say that nothing else could replace the act of getting an erection and using it.
When people hear that I did IVF ten times, they think I’m insane. I was going to do anything possible to have a child. And I think that a man with ED would also do multiple surgeries, pay thousands of dollars, and take multiple drugs if he knew there was a good chance that his ED would be reversed forever.
There is a stigma with both too. Just as women with problems getting or staying pregnant do not openly share their issues with others, so do men with problems getting or staying erect. I have had many companies ask me to do live talks about fertility. I always respond with, “No one will show up.”
And same with a talk about ED. Could you imagine a talk about ED? “Thank you for coming to learn how to help get your penis erect as soon as possible when you have erectile dysfunction. Let’s start with an ice-breaker to get to know the people sitting next to us before we start.”
Quick fact- ED increases dramatically at age 40 with almost 40% of males being affected. Sound familiar?!
And just as other women’s ability to have a baby easily and naturally is saturated in our media, social media, and daily lives, ED is the same. The world is filled with stories, movies, images of people having sex, or thinking about having sex, or couples about to have sex. In both situations, the thing that we see the most and want the most, and is easily accessible to most is the one thing that we can’t achieve.
So, the next time someone is being nosey and asks you why you do not have a child (or two), and you do not want to share your fertility issues, just tell him/her, “We are actively trying, but my husband has erectile dysfunction.”