Unspoken Struggles: A Man’s Journey Through Infertility
Until quite recently, the subject of fertility has been considered an issue for women. It is usually the woman, backed by her gynaecologist, who initiates the investigation of infertility on behalf of both the male and female partners.
However, times are changing and since studies have now shown that men contribute to an almost equal percentage of infertility as women, the male partner is more on the scene when discussions and investigations on infertility take place.
Nevertheless, how does the male partner really feel about this delicate subject? We give below some details.
In general, men do not usually have routine health checks unless there is an acute problem. Where infertility is concerned, many men lack the motive to be evaluated. Some express negativity and feel embarrassed or feel it is a social stigma. Such people are usually less likely to seek health care. However, many show positivity and openness about infertility and are willing to undergo investigation. This is usually when both partners accept the fact, discuss the options and are willing to “work together” to overcome them.
Many men feel they play just a “passenger” role in the investigations, as most of the work is engineered through the woman. They feel that the female partner has the major say. If they only realise the essential part they play in the procedure, they may be motivated to seek evaluation and treatment. However, from a recent study conducted, it shows that many men sought infertility help by collaborating with their partners, which is encouraging.
Another “hidden” feeling of men who are infertile is that their masculinity is threatened. Despite wanting to be strong and courageous, negative feelings of fear and anxiety keep them from seeking medical help. A diagnosis of poor quality semen or sperm could add to negative emotions. However, with so much advancement in treatment technology, there is no need to feel less virile or someone to be pitied.
Now that the male partner’s contribution to infertility is being openly discussed, the desire to “hide behind the curtain” is not required. The curtain should be pulled open and various ways to try and overcome the problem should be ascertained. Sharing some emotional problems with family and friends does help. However, many men do not wish to discuss infertility with close family members (besides their partners) or friends. This could be due to the fact that men are able to accept within themselves that they are infertile but are not willing to discuss the issue with known people. For this purpose, there are support groups for infertile men/women/couples which could assist.
Research has shown that fertility awareness is generally low among men of reproductive age. It is felt that reproductive health should include more participation from the male partner. More knowledge and awareness can be derived from many sources, such as the man’s general physician, his partner’s gynaecologist, support groups and social media. However, some information on social media could be misleading which one should be aware of. Such details should be clarified with the physician, gynaecologist or infertility specialist.
The main purpose of this article is to accentuate that infertility in men is nothing to be ashamed of. It is important that men are open to accepting and sharing their feelings on the subject. Gaining knowledge about their infertility will help them to become emotionally stronger and more positive in their approach. The shedding of built-up stress which may have affected their personality, work, relationships etc will be a real relief.
One of the initial actions towards this goal is to visit a qualified doctor and to have a semen analysis and blood work-up done. This will not only shed light on the problem but the results will help the fertility specialist in recommending the right treatment.
At Andrology Center, in addition to the basic semen analysis test, we offer the SDF (sperm DNA fragmentation) test by using the SCSA (sperm chromatin structure assay) method. It is one of the advanced tests and with the modern technology and high-class equipment, it is guaranteed to produce accurate results. We are pleased to state that we are the only laboratory in India authorised to carry out this genuine test.