How Men feel About Infertility
As many as six million couples in the United States suffer from infertility, yet most infertility resources are squarely focused on how infertility affects women and how they feel about it. The feelings of men regarding infertility are largely ignored, whether because men are not considered to be as vested in the entire fertility journey since they don't carry the baby for nine months, or because men express their emotions differently than women. What is often ignored or overlooked is how great a desire a man can have to be a father and create a family. While we tend to think that the inability to have a baby is due to a woman's medical problem or issue, the fact is that at least 30%, and possibly as many as half of all cases of infertility are due to medical problems or issues in the male half of the couple.
A Blow to the Male Ego?
Too often men can see a diagnosis of infertility (theirs) as a swipe at their manhood. Although far from true, they may see their inability to fertilize their partner's egg, and provide a family as a defining element of their masculinity. Not to mention that many of the tests men are required to undergo to determine the cause of their infertility can be uncomfortable, but more importantly, humiliating. Many men may additionally suffer from feelings of guilt after a diagnosis of male infertility, and may wonder if their wives think less of them.
Why the Difference in Male and Female Responses to Infertility?
Our society still tends to view monitoring ovulation-as well as contraception in general-as a woman's job which tends to remove men from the day-to-day awareness of a couple's fertility. Women are also reminded on a monthly basis of their lack of fertility. Many men show much less distress or sensitivity to a diagnosis of infertility, and can appear indifferent as opposed to the woman who is highly emotional about the subject.
Our very culture hardly views fathering in the same way it views mothering, and tends to shield men from their very real role as fathers. Add to that a culture which fully expects its male inhabitants to remain strong in the face of adversity, and views emotional responses from men as "weak" and you have a good idea why men are less likely to voice their feelings regarding infertility.
Are Men Less Willing to Talk About Their Feelings Regarding Infertility?
Surprisingly to most people, the notion of continuing a genetic line is highly emotional for many men; the passing of the family name and the family genes is very important, and the idea that it may be impossible can cause negative emotions to abound. Men are much less likely to discuss these emotions with their partner, other family members, friends or co-workers, therefore they have little outlet for their frustrations. Because they are unable to freely talk about their emotions regarding infertility, they may overcompensate in other areas in order to enhance their self-confidence and self-esteem. It may become increasingly important for them to receive positive feedback from their employers, partner and others involved in their lives.
The Importance of Support for Male Infertility
Because a man may not feel comfortable discussing infertility with family and friends, it's important that he find support somewhere. Many men seek counseling or therapy so they can have a safe place to vent their feelings. Others go online and look for support groups which can allow them to be supported and offer support during the frustrations, disappointments and helpless feelings encountered when dealing with male infertility. Most chat rooms are free, and offer a safe environment where emotions can be released and information and knowledge can be gained. It's very important that men undergoing fertility issues find support for their feelings in the same way that women do.