What's your worst IVF experience

When a couple tries to fulfill their desire to have children, the focus is on the woman's body and her psyche. The man - usually stands next to it. He can only try to support his partner in the process, from hormone treatment to possible miscarriage. In his blog Vaterwunsch.de, Johannes Richter describes under the name "Helge" everything he and his wife tried to have a child. In conversation with SZ.de the 32-year-old explains why men often feel helpless in such a situation. And why he would have liked to relieve his wife of the physical loss experience - for very selfish reasons.

SZ.de: When did you first feel the desire to become a father?

Johannes Richter: It was always clear to me that I wanted children. But only with my wife did it feel right to start a family, at that time I was 24. Admittedly, she already had more precise ideas about her motherhood back then. For me it only became concrete a little later when we stopped using the contraception. But it was my own personal wish - and also my personal low after every miscarriage.

Still, like all the examinations and treatments, the miscarriages affected primarily your wife ...

Absolutely, I only accompanied many measures out of solidarity - what else could I have done? Everything that is possible in this regard, women have to pay for with their bodies: even if the cause is to be found in the man, they have to take the treatments on themselves. But that doesn't make it any easier for me as a man.

What kind of measures were those?

After a routine check-up showed that my wife's fallopian tubes were impervious, she had an operation. When that didn't help, we went to the naturopath, tried traditional Chinese medicine, and changed our diet. On the one hand, my spermiogram was clearly in need of improvement, on the other hand we wanted to increase our chances in general. We lived vegan times, times sugar-free, and finally gluten-free. We did a lot of sport, avoided alcohol, at times we geared our whole life towards it.

Although my wife became pregnant, she lost the child in the seventh week. Finally we went to a fertility clinic and went through the standard procedure: intrauterine insemination, intracytoplasmic sperm injection - all without success. In the next cycle, a pregnancy suddenly occurred naturally, without any medical help or supervision, which, however, ended again in the seventh week.

What was going on inside you?

I never wanted to be too euphoric about the pregnancies for fear of disappointment if it didn't work out. But nothing came of this resolution: every time my wife was pregnant, I set up the children's room almost immediately - the crash was correspondingly massive. The perspective of a life as a family, everything we had imagined, was gone. My wife was better at dealing with these mood swings. You can say that compared to me, she has always surfed elegantly on her emotional waves. I, on the other hand, felt defenseless against these big breakers.

Unfulfilled desire to have children - a focus on SZ.de.

The business with the unfulfilled desire to have children is booming. What is the experience of a surrogate mother or a donor child with reproductive medicine? And do we have to deal with the end of our own fertility earlier? Read all the texts on the topic here.

What did you suffer most from?

Fainting that there was nothing I could do. I couldn't even feel the loss physically. That may sound presumptuous, but I can imagine that this process, as stressful as it is, can be healing. All I could do was try to empathize with what my wife was going through. The next day I had to go to work, as I wasn't on sick leave. Overall, the whole thing is a taboo subject, even for women. But nobody really talks about men's pain. Staying at home - something like that is not intended for a man in this situation. Even if it is theoretically possible because you have a tolerant boss: There is no social acceptance for it.

Were the reactions from your private environment more helpful?

Not necessarily. Well-intentioned slogans for perseverance often came, which became more and more exhausting: "It'll be fine!" Helped me when there was real interest. It may be that this sets me apart from other men, but I always found it empowering to talk about it in relationships and with friends. Or rather: girlfriends - I was able to exchange ideas with women better and better.

You couldn't do that with men?

Most of my friends are not used to talking about their feelings, even with other affected people I was not able to do that. It's more like having a beer together and being distracted. In this respect, my friends helped me in their own way - because they got me out and did something nice with me.

You have dealt with the subject beyond your case - is there a "typically male" approach to it?

The focus is on the woman's desire to have children - among other things, because this usually occurs earlier than in the partner. That is why men often only find out about the topic when it is clear that it is not the woman, but them. Many then develop a feeling of inferiority. Some suppress it and do not want to be examined because they fear that they might not be "man enough".

Overall, the approach of many men is rather pragmatic. You concentrate on examining all possibilities, reacting to female grief with solution-oriented behavior and concrete suggestions. If it doesn't work out, there is often a lack of understanding that one is powerless. Since he is hardly anatomically involved, it is difficult for the man to empathize with what artificial insemination does to the body or what it means to lose a child. In such a situation, men are more likely to suffer through their relationship with women. It is then less about the fact that they do not have children - but rather that their wife cannot have one.