Infertility is an emotional journey, no matter who you are. But often we forget to focus on the emotional struggle men face when dealing with infertility.
Sometimes this struggle is not as apparent, since male counterparts in infertile couples often try to remain strong and optimistic for their partner. In addition, women sometimes take much of the responsibility for treatments upon themselves, whether to feel in greater control of an uncontrollable situation or to protect their husbands from their own pain and feelings of failure.
Couples also face real concerns about issues like income loss and use of time when deciding if one or both should attend appointments, and so the woman may end up spending much more time at the doctors. All of this can leave men unsure of what exactly is going on, and disconnected from the feeling of actively doing something to address the issue.
Males in infertile couples can feel overwhelmed by the intensity of their partner’s emotions as well as an inability to access their own. Research on men and women’s psychological response to infertility shows that men are in fact equally affected by the unfulfilled desire for a child but are less open about their feelings.
Men find themselves in a position where, regardless of how well they’ve been trained to solve problems, they are helpless to make this situation better. And men are less likely to have a channel to express their emotional needs and worries. For men, it is rare that they will post about their struggles on Facebook or their blog, regularly talk with friends about family about it, ask for prayers from friends, or engage in the emotional issues of infertility.
Yet ignoring these emotions can actually make male infertility worse, because the psychological stress men face with personal infertility, like fear, depression, guilt, and anxiety, have been shown to further effect impotency.
Luckily, there are ways that men and women can help each other on their journey toward parenthood. It is very important that women, families, and physicians consult openly with the man when it comes to infertility.
Men need to feel good about the decisions being made and should be included wholly. Additionally, they should be able to ask questions and understand procedures and options clearly. If couples can keep the lines of communication open and support one another, both sexes can handle it more positively.
And don’t forget to include your male partner in the strategies you are using to protect your mental health when TTC. Some options include infertility counseling for men and couples, yoga specifically focusing on men facing infertility, and Circle + Bloom’s Relaxation for Men Program, which helps to not only reduce the effects of stress, which may be hampering male fertility, but provides greater feelings of control and optimism.