After the miscarriage no one asked Matt how he was feeling

When Laura and Matt experienced a miscarriage their family and friends were very supportive, but no one asked how Matt was.

When fertility tests showed that Laura and Matt were never going to become parents naturally due to a male factor issue, it came as a big shock to Matt who had not considered fertility to be a man’s problem.

“When the results first came back I have to admit it hurt a lot,” says Matt, aged 38, “I got quite down about it. I think that most men just think that it is a ‘given’ that they can have kids with no issue.”

“I felt that I had let Laura down as she wanted a child so much and it should be the one thing, I would be able to do. It did make me feel, stupidly, less of a man.”

The couple, who met on a dating website, had first started trying for a baby shortly after they got married. When nothing had happened after six months Laura started tracking her ovulation and making lifestyle changes in the hope that would help them conceive. The couple were stunned when tests revealed that there was a male factor.

Making lifestyle changes can sometimes boost a man’s natural fertility but Matt had already made some adjustments. “I had been a heavy smoker but had given it up some years ago and I had also lost a lot of weight,” says Matt.

The couple were referred for NHS-funded IVF treatment.

Laura fell pregnant on the first two cycles but sadly miscarried both times.

“Matt was devastated, he had always wanted to be a dad. He also had the extra guilt and no one to talk to,” says Laura.

“Everyone focuses on the woman throughout so when we had the miscarriages everyone was being very lovely and looking after me but it was quite shocking that no one asked how he was.

“It was a really tough time for us. He didn’t really want to talk about it, was quite depressed.”

Matt now recognises that this had a damaging impact:

“My nature isn’t to worry about what people think, but I just couldn’t bring myself to open up about it with anyone,” he says. “I am not going to lie, it really took its toll on me and my close friends could see that I had changed.

“Once I did start talking to close friends and family it really helped. Now, I don’t think there is anything to be ashamed of or embarrassed about,” he says.

The couple have gone on to have two children with IVF, Elle and Louis.

Laura and Matt with Elle and Louis
Laura and Matt with Elle and Louis
Jackie Stewart

Supporting male partners after loss

As an Independent Counsellor specialising in fertility, and having spoken to hundreds of couples over the years, I have observed that men and women seem to cope differently with the challenge of infertility and fertility treatment. I am going to generalise so forgive me, and of course there are exceptions to this but bear with me.

Focusing on the present 

A coping mechanism adopted by many men is to be positive, logical minded and pragmatic, focusing their energies very much in the present moment and on what they can solve.

They prefer not to talk about treatment because they feel helpless, powerless and don’t like to see their partner suffer when the topic comes up. They care every bit as much of course and may help with injections, but generally speaking they place the matter in the hands of science to ‘fix it’ whilst encouraging their partner to be positive and optimistic.

Coping with miscarriage for men

Men often try to be the rock for a partner, but it is better to just accept you are in this together and you don’t know what the outcome will be. This way you can work out what you need individually and what you need together to help you feel more peaceful through treatment. This takes away any expectation or assumption that your partner should be feeling or coping the same way.

It is important for men to express their fears including that of possible unending rounds of fertility treatment. Understanding each other’s feelings and communicating how best to support each other can make all the difference.

More information

Read more posts about coping with infertility. 

Find out more about the male perspective in our Men Talk section.

You can self refer to Bourn Hall’s Miscarriage Clinic. We also offer counselling and a Fertility Support Group more information about coping with loss

Baby Loss Awareness Week is 9-15th OctoberUK charities involved include Sands, the Miscarriage Association and the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust. Since 2014 Sands has taken a lead role in promoting the week and you can find out more about this year’s activities for the week at the dedicated website

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