The Emotional Impact of Male Infertility

The focus of infertility usually lies solely with women; the issues surrounding infertility, the stress of being unable to bear children, the trauma and devastation when a woman suffers from miscarriages. The emphasis always seems to be placed on women. However, we tend to neglect the emotional impact that infertility has on men, regardless of whether infertility stems from them or from their partner.

This often carries an even larger social stigma than female infertility does. For men facing fertility problems, perhaps the greatest challenge is simply opening up and talking about their own experience. Our society does a great job of making men feel emasculated and its almost a taboo to open up about their own emotional scars. Men are taught to “MAN UP” and if a man cannot produce results in the way that society expects them to, it can make them feel like a failure.

Infertility in women is extremely difficult, and it’s a subject that is still not spoken about as openly as it should be, however, as women, we tend to be able express ourselves more easily than men.

But how common is male infertility anyway?

Infertility is a widespread problem. Research has shown that 30% the cause of infertility is found to be the woman. 30% the cause of infertility is found to be the man. 30% the cause of infertility is found to be both male and female. The final 10% is believed that the underlying cause cannot be determined by diagnostic methods used today.

What are the symptoms of male infertility?
In most cases, there are no obvious signs of infertility. Intercourse, erections and ejaculation will usually happen without difficulty. The quantity and appearance of the ejaculated semen generally appears normal to the naked eye, however medical testing will need to be done to find out if a man is infertile.

What causes male infertility?
Male infertility is usually caused by problems that affects either sperm production or sperm transport. Through a medical screening, the doctor should be able to find the cause of the problem. Infertile men have a problem with making sperm in the testes. Either low numbers of sperm are made and/or the sperm produced does not work properly. Sperm transport problems are a known cause of infertility, especially in men who have had a vasectomy but now wish to have more children. Blockages (often referred to as obstructions) in the tubes leading sperm away from the testes to the penis can cause a complete lack of sperm in the ejaculated semen. Other less common causes of infertility include low levels of hormones that affect the testes and sperm antibodies that, in rare cases, can reduce fertility.

What is the emotional impact of male infertility?
Most men in our society are taught from an early age to become the breadwinner of the family, to take care of his family, to provide. One very significant milestone in a man’s life is to marry and have children. Infertility can completely render a man powerless. If they cannot perform their “duties” as a man in the way society expects them to, it can have devastating consequences. So because of this, most men would rather not talk about this issue because they may feel judged, ashamed or humiliated.
Human emotion is deeply complicated and when it comes to male emotion, is often overlooked. We often fail to recognise that emotions are not gender specific.

How can men deal with infertility stress?

  1. One can only imagine how stressful it must be for a man who is not able to get their partner pregnant. This stress can multiply to such an extent that it can put a strain on their relationship. It then becomes a double-edged sword. So how does one navigate the stress of male infertility and the emotional rollercoaster that comes with it?
    Find a trusted Fertility Coach and join their support group – this is a great way to not only seek professional guidance, but to meet others in a similar (if not the same) situation, which may help alleviate some of the pressure you place on yourself
  2. Read blogs and articles regarding male infertility and how to overcome the issues surrounding infertility. Knowledge is power so arm yourself with as much information as possible – especially if you still struggle to open up to your partner or family
  3. Go for counselling – counselling offers you a confidential safe-space to talk openly about your fears, concerns and pain. It can open so many doors and will give you the steps to heal and move forward. It can also give you a level of control over what you experience and make you more open to communicating

It’s so important for us as a society, to understand the psychological impact that infertility has on men. It is therefore time to open up about male infertility and as a community stand behind men that are struggling with infertility. If we can address the stigma and help men and their partners to communicate about male infertility, we can help break down the barriers men face, so they can get the care and support they need.

Are you concerned about infertility? Contact us today to set up an appointment to see one of our specialists – we are on hand to assist you in every way possible.