The Pause – Exploring male infertility

The world is experiencing a pause right now, thanks to coronavirus in every walk of life. The therapy area of fertility was greatly affected. Clinics closed across multiple countries in order to protect patients and reallocate medical resources to the fight against the pandemic.

Thankfully, some things including fertility treatments have now returned. Although we are far from normality and far from being out of the woods yet. Some pauses in life are private. A diagnosis of infertility can be one of these private pauses. On one hand you envisaged a future with children. On the other, a blank space that represents the absence of that vision.

The impact of male infertility

The Pause: A Brief Contemplation of Scott’s Infertility is a 17-minute documentary that explores the impact of male infertility. It is unusual as emotional insights into the problem of male fertility are rare.

Richard Yeagar, Producer follows Scott and Jenn Burkholder, from the point when they learn that Scott is infertile. We learn that they have been trying for a child for three years prior to this diagnosis. Scott was insistent that any child be his biological offspring.

The diagnosis ends Scott’s hopes of having his own child, Jenn is more philosophical considering fostering or adoption. Scott, in recognition of facts, is bitter. He describes his feelings as loss of someone that he would love and someone that would love him.

A man in mourning

He’s feeling a kind of mourning. This mourning is also a feeling he extends to his partner, Jenn. He recognises that any continued refusal to pursue adoption or fostering will deny Jenn the experience of motherhood.

Friends rally around the couple, trying to make Scott feel better and to expand his ideas of fatherhood. One couple in particular, are parents of an adopted daughter. They try to get him to entertain the idea that the meaning of family extends beyond biology.

But, given the freshness of the blow Scott is pretty inconsolable. He said, “It’s just not how I thought my family would be.”

Insights on the feelings of an infertility diagnosis

The Pause does not have a definite ending, either happy or sad, because we are left in the middle of it. But it raises some interesting insights into the ways that some males initially think about a diagnosis of infertility.

For instance, talking about the documentary in a later interview, Scott dissects the feelings of mourning expressed in the film. He said, “Grieving requires an exploration of what you did lose. One of the things that I did was to write an obituary for this child that I never had. I realized I’ll never have the experience of seeing someone else play with my genes. Someone who has my genetics. Someone who experiences life slightly differently and potentially makes different choices but still has a part of me in them. That’s a significant loss. I had to let go of that and move beyond that.”

The documentary raises a few questions. After all, it is Scott who is infertile. Not Jenn. So why not sperm donation? Again, one has to turn to later interviews to get further insights.

Scott said, “It’s hard for me because Jenn will inevitably have a very different relationship to that child than I ever could because her genetic makeup would be a part of it. There will be an intimacy that I just cannot experience.”

The Pause is an interesting documentary. It gives a perspective into a certain kind of male thinking that takes place in the immediate space following a diagnosis of infertility. It shows the hurt is very real.

Please click here to watch the documentary.