How is a man supposed to be a man? Male childlessness – a life course disrupted by Robin Hadley

By March 9, 2022Books

‘I want to have your baby you’ll be a great Dad’. I have heard these words on relatively few occasions in my life but each time my heart has either lifted with joy or plummeted with fear. As I approach sixty-two years of age the words I hear now are ‘you would have made a great Dad’.

These are the words Robin Hadley uses to introduce his new academic book ‘How is a man supposed to be a man? Male Childlessness – a Life Course Disrupted’ a doctoral thesis which grew out of his own experience of not having children, and the silence surrounding the subject. He talks about his broodiness, feelings of loss, loneliness, grief and exclusion from the world of fathers.

Based on interviews with 14 men it shines the light on men and their experiences, how men may feel when they don’t end up having children for one reason or another e.g. not meeting the right person, infertility. It is a forensic examination of the literature on men which shows so often they are sidelined and ignored when it comes to matters of conception, fertility, pregnancy, and fatherhood. What happens to them long-term re their health and well being as they get older are vital issues discussed here.

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This book was brought to the MJA’s attention by MJA member Mary-Claire Mason whose book ‘Male infertility – Men talking‘ was published in 1993. Mary-Claire’s book also came out of personal experience.  Of her book Mary-Claire says:  I wanted to find out what men felt about a diagnosis of infertility so I interviewed 22 men about this. I discovered their sense of exclusion from fertility investigations which I think still often happens to this day and their feelings of being onlookers in the whole process not properly included. One thing that emerged was men often knew little about their fertility, how to protect it and what warning signs to look out for. Fertility investigations now are still dominated by gynaecologists, men not properly checked, a sperm test is not sufficient which may explain why so little is still understood about the subject. One eminent urologist says IVF which is so often turned to is a solution not a treatment for male infertility, men need to be properly investigated, have a physical examination and a series of hormone tests. And they needed to be treated with care and support.

Sallie Robins

Author Sallie Robins

 MJA Administrator

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