The Agora Clinic is partnering with Brighton-based male fertility expert Ian Stones. Here he explains his mission to give men a voice and support during fertility treatment.
For many years I’ve supported couples who are trying to conceive. I’ve done extensive training in fertility support and specialised in it for a long time. But over the years, it’s struck me that something has been missing.
Working with my couples, it was traditionally the women who would get in touch. While men would come along too, the focus, as per my training, had always been on the female.
But it takes two to make a baby, so I started to consider that maybe men weren’t being represented with equality in the process. I decided to do some digging.
What became glaringly obvious as I investigated was how little there is out there for men. Talking and working with more men just confirmed everything that I suspected.
Men were feeling left out of the process, like a spare part and, for some, even just a sperm donor. And they haven’t felt confident enough to speak up about these challenges. They’ve found little or no support and nowhere to turn to talk about it. This isn’t good enough.
Finding out that you have poor quality or no sperm can have a really profound effect on a man. Coupled with the intensity of IVF treatment and the need to support his partner, he can feel a huge pressure.
It’s not uncommon for that pressure to become too much and for some men to experience mental health problems. For some, their relationship will also suffer. I decided the need was great to make a change in the way fertility support is offered to couples.
In 2020, as the first lockdown hit, I was invited to co-host the UK’s first male fertility support group on behalf of Fertility Network UK. We received incredible feedback from men going through fertility struggles and the group has really helped raise male fertility support on the agenda. I’m having engaged conversations daily about male fertility, where before I would be met with blank stares. There is now a real sense that things are beginning to change. It’s helped in no small way by fantastic collaborations with clinics such as the Agora, who are leading the way with male fertility support.
My role with clients is about supporting the couple through their fertility challenges and helping them make positive lifestyle changes to enhance their health and fertility. This has always included men, and I’ve developed a unique set of programmes which allow men a 360-degree view of their life, health and fertility to visualise where positive changes can be made.
But I’ve come to realise that supporting a man through fertility struggles has many facets, and importantly guys need to know that there is someone they can turn to who is impartial and won’t judge.
I help men look at things like diet, lifestyle, stress management and general wellbeing. I provide them with realistic steps and accountability to make manageable and sustainable changes that make a significant difference in all areas of their life. I can also help men demystify all the medical jargon and processes that they have to go through.
I work with men to prepare for the next steps. Many men go into the fertility process with little awareness of potential problems, so helping them understand and prepare helps to bring them along in the process.
And some men also need an ear out of the clinic environment and away from home where they can properly express how they feel. Not all men will want to talk this stuff through, but knowing you have the option is really important.
There are many questions that come up before and throughout treatment. Having someone who considers your needs can make a huge difference. It’s important that men are given the right information and direction at the right time, so that time and money isn’t wasted and the right investigations and support are provided.
If you’d like to find out more about the work that I do, I’d be really happy to have a chat.
I offer a free discovery consultation to any man who’d like to find out more about male infertility and the support I offer.
More details can be found at hovefertilityandwellness.co.uk or give me a bell on 07740 300465.
Male Fertility Assessment
How do you know if you’re producing enough sperm? What could you do to improve your sperm quality?
The Male Fertility MOT includes a semen analysis. This means you’ll need to provide a fresh sample of sperm, either at home or in the clinic. You need to avoid ejaculation for 3-5 days beforehand.
If you prefer to produce a sample at home, remember to ask us for a sample pot. You will then need to bring your sample to your appointment within 30-60 minutes of producing it.
We’ll send a copy of your result to your GP.