#BaseCampforFertility

4 Mar 2022

Well known to be one of the most gruelling challenges in the world, a test of physical and mental strength and endurance, Everest is a climb that tests you to the limits.

Base Camp Altitude: 5,364m | Oxygen Level: 50% | Day temperature: 15 degrees | Night temperature: -1 degree | Trek duration: 9 – 12 days | Trek distance: 130 – 140km

In March 2022 a team of 15 – 20 men from the HIMfertility Support Group will climb to Base Camp, raising funds for Fertility Network UK along the way. Why? To raise awareness of a little talked about issue: male fertility. Each man in the expedition has suffered due to male fertility, but not always as you’d expect. Read the issues below to find out more.

 

THE ISSUES

While fertility is as much about a man as a woman, often men receive far less support throughout treatment. Fertility treatment can be a gruelling process for couples and it can have a huge effect on men too. Many men feel isolated during fertility treatment and often feel like a spare part as treatment is heavily focussed on the woman. There is a lack of support for men around lifestyle, diet and stress, and it can be more difficult for men to find a space to talk about their personal challenges. For some men, this can lead to serious mental health issues, depression and even suicidal thoughts.

Our men-only 2020 survey showed that:

  • 42% of respondents who had undergone fertility treatment did not feel fully involved alongside their partner
  • 41% did not feel supported by family and friends
  • 78% felt that fertility challenges have impacted their mental health
  • 95% would like to see more support made available for men

 

SUPPORTING FERTILITY NETWORK UK

Fertility Network UK provides free and impartial support, advice, information and understanding for anyone affected by fertility issues.

FNUK is the nation’s leading patient-focused fertility charity, offering practical and emotional support whatever your experience of fertility issues.

Ian Stones and Toby Trice have been running a monthly support group for men on behalf of Fertility Network UK for some time now, creating a space where men can share their experiences and support each other. These, and others suffering from male fertility issues are the men invited to join the challenge.

 

MEET THE TEAM & DONATE

About Ian Stones

Ian is a leading fertility and wellness expert with extensive experience supporting couples through their fertility journey. Ian is especially passionate about offering support to men and raising awareness of male fertility issues. Ian co-hosts FNUK’s monthly male fertility support group which has proved incredibly popular and is breaking down the barriers and stigma around male fertility. The Everest challenge was Ian’s slightly crazy idea however he’s super excited to be doing something that is getting peoples attention about male fertility whilst also raising money for FNUK. You can donate to Ian’s fundraising pot here


 About Ciaran Hannington

My wife and I began our fertility journey in 2010 when I provided a routine sample so we could begin ovulation induction due to my wife’s PCOS. I was shocked to learn that I had a low count, morphology and motility and felt this was a massive blow. Our only option was ICSI and after a number of failed cycles and miscarriages we finally achieved our dream of becoming parents. When we started treatment in 2012, I found that support for men just wasn’t available and I found my mental health deteriorating. Although friends and family tried to help, it was hard for them to understand what we were going through. I learned a lot about fertility, particularly around becoming as physically healthy as possible, and subsequently started a business as a personal trainer specialising in supporting those embarking on their fertility journey. Fertility Network UK is a charity very close to my heart and when I found out about this challenge I jumped at the chance to raise awareness of male infertility whilst also raising money for FNUK.


About Dan Williams

For my wife and I, our fertility journey began 3 years ago when my wife underwent treatment for PCOS and Endometriosis, which resulted in some improvement and we started trying to conceive. Having tried for nearly a year my wife’s GP suggested that I have my semen analysed. Following several tests, I was told that I produced no sperm. Based on this, we were told our options were to use a sperm donor for IVF or to proceed with adoption. Following further tests and examinations, I have now been diagnosed with ‘unobstructed azoospermia’.

Needless to say, I was devastated by the news. Since my diagnosis, the paternal urge to be a father has been stronger than ever and has made this even more difficult to try to come to terms with. And for now our journey continues and my wife and I are hopeful that we will have a family some day in the future, in whatever form that may take.

The support group I found via FNUK has been invaluable in helping me cope with the diagnosis and I am undertaking this Base Camp challenge for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the need to spread the awareness of the charity and its support, which is so important, to help other men that may be going through an infertility journey. Secondly, doing something that I never thought I would or could, with a group of men who are all facing, and hopefully conquering, their own ‘mountains’ in the hope that we will in turn help others to do the same.

See Dan’s Just Giving Page 


About Aaron Sutton

I’m Aaron, a 42yr old married man, and a keen trail runner, so when this challenge was first suggested I was so up for it right from the start. It’s a part of the world I’ve always to travel to and can’t wait to get high up into those mountains; I’ve always aimed for the hills on my trail runs too as it’s here that I have found the time and space to reflect of life’s challenges, to gain some perspective and to be immersed in places that can’t fail to provide a sense of awe. So with Everest, the thing I am most looking forward to is the grandeur of the views and breath-taking scenery; I’m just hoping that the smell of 12 unwashed men isn’t too much to bear!

The reason I am supporting Fertility Network UK is that my own fertility journey ended childless over 10 years ago but it was only last year that I allowed myself to reflect on the impact that childlessness had on me. Whilst documenting this on my social media accounts I became aware of the stories of other men in the midst of fertility treatment and could see the same service failures that I felt existed a decade earlier, this in turn got me linked into Fertility Network UK and the start of a male-only online support group.

Over the last 10 years, and through the stories of others, I have seen the unnecessary trauma caused due to poor service, particularly for men, I have seen the way that the pursuit of parenthood can become all consuming to the point that relationships fail, and I have seen how the ability for men to talk about this topic has been shied away from; that’s why I want to support Fertility Network UK continue to be a voice of support and personally to offer hope to others that there is a worthwhile life after failed fertility.

See Aaron’s Just Giving Page

SHARE THE CHALLENGE!

We’re actively engaging with the press to raise as much awareness as possible, but the more noise we can make, the more money we can raise and the more impact we can have. Sharing to your circles will help drive the change.