“Male infertility alone accounts for approximately 1/3 of all infertility cases.” Neither men nor women are very vocal about their struggles with infertility, however for as little as we hear about the issue we do know that women are more vocal than men (whom we rarely hear from at all). Infertility is personal and heartbreaking. But why else might men remain quiet on the topic? In a 2002 Nat. Survey of Family Growth 14% of male participants were diagnosed with infertility due to sperm or semen issues and 6% with variocele. Those two diagnoses alone accounted for 20% of the infertility diagnoses. Today, male factor infertility accounts for almost 40% of infertility cases, but men remain quiet and understandably so. Understanding the emotional rollercoaster of infertility and male diagnoses can help us to better understand and interact, maybe even help the men in our lives that may be going through this difficult time.
Communication vs. Research
For many women, support groups, counseling, and blogs are a huge help when it comes to dealing with their stressful situations, even infertility issues. Communicating issues can be a great stress reliever for women and some men as well. But for the majority, talking it out and relaying every issue out loud to someone else may stress men out even more. So if talking about it doesn’t help, what can a guy do? In order to relieve stress, men tend to do their research to learn as much about their problem and how to fix it (if fixing said issue is possible). Knowledge is men’s leverage and gives them a sense of control when deciding how to move forward. Maybe this is why we don’t see a lot of men going to support groups and counseling, or maybe it’s because of other feelings that they don’t want to share…
List of Male Bloggers Below:
Infertility and Me – http://infertility-and-me.com/
One Man’s Battle with Infertility – https://www.blogger.com/profile/11134952491606410762
Almost a Father (book and blog) – http://almostafather.com/2010/08/
Men’s Infertility Online Support Community – http://theinfertilemen.com/
Emasculation and embarrassment
Growing up, many people feel like they know they will meet a man or a woman and have children in the future. Men, also have an engrained sense of what it means to “be a man” going through the process of having children. Infertility can take that away, leaving men feeling emasculated. Feeling as though your manhood has been taken from you can be embarrassing too. Men reported feeling as though their wives’ friends wouldn’t stop staring or looking strangely at them. A study concluded “Male partners in couples who perceive isolated male factor infertility have a lower sexual and personal quality of life compared with male partners of couples without perceived male factor infertility.” In some of these cases it may be beneficial to take part in a support group for men. Click here to read more on Resolve’s many support groups throughout the country.
The Marginal Role
Many couples go through expensive fertility treatments, or should I say for the majority, that women go through the treatments? Men may feel their partner is doing most of the work when undergoing these treatments and procedures. This can create a feeling of helplessness. And feeling as though they aren’t doing enough, can be a big issue. Some conditions that can decrease potency in men are medical conditions such as diabetes, testicular failure or exposure to radiation, also unhealthy habits such as smoking and heavy consumption of alcohol, and exposure to toxins including pesticides and lead. However, there are lifestyle changes that men can make to improve their chances of success by simply adjusting his nutrition intake and lifestyle habits. Click here to see our tips on boosting fertility and conceiving. This may also lessen that helpless feeling by giving them reachable goals so they can feel they are helping in this stressful process.
Stress due to male infertility can cause numerous negative effects in a relationship, effects that can be remedied in ways that are often simple and beneficial to both parties. These relationship issues often come up through different coping methods. Women tend to think out loud while men usually try to research and find the solution as soon as possible with minimal communication. Some ways to manage this relationship stress include: Respecting each other’s differences, dealing with infertility as a unit by going to appointments, sharing news with family and friends, and exercising together. Scheduling dates with a rule not to talk about infertility at all, may also be beneficial and reduce stress in the relationship.
It’s important to understand the psychological impact that infertility has on men even if they aren’t as vocal about their issues as women may be. Trying to understand what’s going through their minds, what they feel and how they cope is the first step to helping and supporting them.