Studies have shown that men have a harder time coping with an infertility diagnosis than women. When a woman receives the news that she has an issue that is contributing to the infertility, she goes into action, doing whatever it is the doctor says she must do in order to conceive. This may or may not come with tears, temper tantrums, and plenty of anxiety attacks, but the key factor here is that she goes into action in order to avoid these feelings and to produce the desired results. Men, on the other hand, often tend to shut down, refuse to talk about the problem, and refuse treatment. If you have a man in this situation, there are ways that you can help so that you can resolve the issue together without losing sight of where you were going.
First, it is important to understand that men are very removed from the idea of pregnancy. They are not monitoring their cycle month after month, looking at the disappointment of menstruation or the impending signs of post menstrual stress. Women are forever in connection with their bodies, what they are doing, and how likely they are to get pregnant that month. Men, on the other hand, show up to do their job and assume that they did it right when all is said and done. When a male is faced with month after month of no pregnancy and then the implication that something may be wrong, it can be difficult for him to face because it is almost as if he is slapped in the face with the reality of the situation. A woman has time to prepare for the fact that there may be issues as she monitors her body and watches it not react as it should when trying to conceive. Most men assume that they are fine and that their plumbing is working just the way it should.
How Men React To Infertility
When a man is told that his sperm is the reason that conception has not occurred yet, it can be very difficult for him to respond. The fact that his body and most importantly, his male parts, are failing him can make a man feel like he is a complete failure. Many men look at their ability to be masculine or to be the supporting male is at risk when they are told that there is an issue with their sperm. Some men may even get emotional as their ability to provide a continuing genetic line is now at risk. Some men get quiet while others get combative or defensive, as if it is their fault that their sperm are not producing. There are a variety of problems that can arise as a result of a male infertility diagnosis. Some men are unable to perform sexually after hearing of the defect; they just find it difficult to get an erection while others may lose all desire to have sex in the first place.
In other cases, a marriage or other close relationships can suffer as a result of male infertility. Men tend to personalise the issues that are going on with their body, thinking somehow that it is their fault and that they are no longer worthy of the marriage or other relationships they have in their lives. Some marriages end up in disaccord as a result or at the very least, the trust between the husband and wife can be greatly diminished until the male reaches a point that he is okay with the diagnosis and impending treatment.
Helping Your Partner Through The Diagnosis
If your spouse was told that his sperm count was low, motility is low, or other problems with his sperm, there are ways that you can help him cope. In the beginning, it will likely require you to take a step back and let him take in the diagnosis and what it means. Overcrowding him, telling him how to feel, or making him feel pressured in any way will only have a negative impact on the situation. Instead, let him come to you when he is ready to talk about the situation. If he has ways that he can de-stress, let him do them. Many men exercise, throw themselves into their work, or hang out with friends – whatever makes them feel more “manly” as their masculinity was just greatly offended. Over time, however, most men learn to come to terms with the issue and to attack the problem head on.
Once your spouse is ready to talk, go through the options with him and let him know that you will support him in any way that you can. Whatever you do, avoid pushing him into a decision or making him feel bad about the fact that he is not producing adequate or normal sperm. If your spouse was told that he needs to lose weight, exercise, take supplements, or change his lifestyle habits, you should do it right alongside him. When he feels the partnership between you working towards a common goal, he will be more likely to do what is necessary to increase his sperm count or enhance the normalcy of his sperm. If he has to undergo medical treatments to reverse the condition, let him guide the way – if he wants you there, he will tell you; if he would rather go it alone, you have to respect his decision.
The most important thing to remember is to be there the way that your spouse wants you to be there. Not every couple will handle an infertility diagnosis the same way. Let your spouse be the guide as you move along the path to parenthood. There are many options available even when the semen analysis is not very good and you and your partner just need to work together.
For further information or to schedule a free IVF consultation with our specialists on the Sunshine Coast or Bundaberg, please phone 1300 FERTILITY.
The thoughts of this blog are of the individual writer and not necessarily those of the Nurses for Nurses Network. To read our full disclaimer click here >>