Men and Miscarriages: It’s time to talk

 

Miscarriages are far more common than most people think. According to the NHS website, among women who know they are pregnant, around 1 in 8 pregnancies will end in miscarriage.  They go on to clarify that the actual miscarriage rate is far higher, because many occur before a woman is aware she is pregnant.  Tommy’s, the leading UK charity on baby loss, states the rate of miscarriage is actually closer to 1 in 4 pregnancies.

 

Top 2 most common misconceptions

There are two main common misconceptions in relation to men and miscarriage:

  1. Grief will mainly affect the woman and men should ‘man up’ and be strong for their partner.
  2. Miscarriages are solely down to medical complications with the female partner. 

Both are entirely false, and this blog post will aim to provide you with the facts to help navigate these two very common misconceptions.

 

Men’s grief and miscarriages 

A systematic review of men’s grief following pregnancy loss concluded that “studies identified that in comparison to women, men may face different challenges including expectations to support female partners and a lack of social recognition for their grief and subsequent need.” 

Whilst it may be the woman / surrogate who experiences the physical loss, men tend to be forgotten. What little resources that are available tend to be focused on the physical trauma and women’s health.  This can leave many men feeling like they have to be strong for their partner and not allow themselves time to grieve the loss of their baby.  In James’ heart-breaking story he remembers having “scoured the Internet for articles and blogs on missed miscarriages…There was exceptionally little from the point of view of men or partners.” 

Bereaving a miscarriage is different for everyone. Some come to terms with it quickly and try to move forward in their lives’ whereas others struggle to get past their feelings of guilt, sadness, and anger. The NHS website warn that the latter can quickly lead to feelings of anxiety and depression which is a problem for the male population – the suicide rate of men in England is 3 times higher than that of women.

Here are a few ways you and your partner can work through this difficult time:

  1. It can help to be open and discuss feelings openly with each other, family, close friends or in a support group.
  2. Some couples take the time to acknowledging this loss and maybe do something special in remembrance to help provide closure.
  3. If you find that you are still struggling, then speaking to a counsellor could be beneficial to you. 
  4. Staying active. Doing things to take care of yourself like eating right and exercising to help you focus on something positive.

If your feelings of sadness turn into a more serious depression, it’s important to speak with your health care provider about coping strategies and treatments. 

Men rarely share their experiences with others when it comes to fertility issues and experience of miscarriage and many men and even women do not realise how common it can be. A lack of awareness, resources and support for those that have unfortunately had to suffer a miscarriage does need to be addressed, as many couples are left feeling isolated, lost and alone.

 

Male fertility and miscarriages 

It’s a common misconception that miscarriages are caused solely by the female partner and men have no role to play. This is false. With 50% of infertility being an issue with the male partner, sperm quality has a major role in miscarriage and recurrent miscarriage.

Recent scientific studies and research have shown that DNA damage in sperm can increase the rate of miscarriage significantly. This goes against the traditional belief that miscarriage is down to a problem with the female partner.

One study in couples suffering from Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) showed there were “markedly increased levels of semen ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) and sperm DNA fragmentation and reduced functional sperm parameters when compared with control participants.” 

 

What is DNA fragmentation, and can you fix it? 

DNA fragmentation is caused by oxidative stress and, once diagnosed or suspected, is often treated with antioxidants. This has proven ineffective; a Cochrane review did not see a significant difference in pregnancy rates for men treated with antioxidants compared to those that were untreated.  Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy and are internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care.

Strong antioxidants help to eliminate oxidative stress that causes DNA fragmentation but in turn they can cause the opposite effect – reductive stress. This results in DNA decondensation, where the DNA inside the sperm head is unravelled, which has just as bad an effect on male fertility as DNA fragmentation.

Therefore, we at Fertility Family suggest Impryl.  Impryl has a unique formula of active ingredients which have been carefully put together in order to activate your body’s own natural antioxidant defence. This natural antioxidant defence is produced only where it is needed and solves the problem of DNA fragmentation without causing DNA decondensation.

Almost all other male fertility supplements contain strong antioxidants, which might not help you and may do your sperm harm.  You can learn more about Impryl and how it works here. There is also persuasive live birth data from studies carried out using Impryl’s micronutrients. 

 

Useful links:

https://www.tommys.org/ 

https://fertilitynetworkuk.org/himfertility/ 

https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage/