We’re all familiar with the “men don’t like to talk about their feelings” stereotype. Regardless of your personal experience with this idea, the data behind it may surprise you. It may also surprise you to learn that men and women are equally as likely to be diagnosed with issues pertaining to infertility. A general reluctance by men to speak openly about these issues (perpetuated by societal pressures and cultural depictions of masculinity) creates the perception that infertility is something that women face more often than men. And while there are plenty of ways to deal with the physical side effects of infertility, there is an emotional side that can be equally as devastating. Here are a few examples of the not-so-obvious effects of male infertility.
Anxiety and Depression:
The desire to procreate is naturally ingrained in all men. To be given an infertility diagnosis can immediately conjure feelings of worthlessness and self-hatred. Even if fatherhood was not an immediate concern, having the possibility taken away can still lead a man to feel as if he has failed his biological imperative. These feelings can quickly escalate if not properly addressed, resulting in harmful levels of depression and anxiety.
One key to combating these feelings is to stay informed, and know that you are not alone. Male factor infertility accounts for roughly 30% of all infertility cases. In-person and online support groups are easy to find, and can be a big help for men who feel emotionally isolated by their diagnosis.
An infertility diagnosis can easily lead to a man question his own masculinity. There is a common misconception that male infertility is associated with erectile dysfunction, but this is simply not true. However, the stigma is strong enough that it can often cause a man to lose confidence and begin to experience a loss of libido or erectile sustainability. Fortunately there are many options for men who are dealing with this issue. From brands like Hims making Sildenafil (generic Viagra) available online, to certain meditative practices, erectile dysfunction is one side effect of male infertility that can be easily dealt with.
Infertility can put a large amount of stress on any relationship. Attempting to become pregnant can be a very long process, often leading to high-pressure, time sensitive situations such as scheduled sex, waiting for test results, or making costly medical decisions. If the infertility lies solely with one partner, it can be difficult to resist feelings of blame and resentment from creeping into the relationship.
Men often feel the need to hide and/or minimize their emotional stress levels, in order to maintain an emotional stability in the relationship. Feeling at fault for an inability to conceive can certainly weigh heavily on a man whether or not his partner sees it that way. The longer that issues like this go unaddressed, the more they can start to eat at a relationship from the inside. In situations like this, couples should not be afraid to talk to a counselor. Learning how to talk about these feelings will help preserve a healthy relationship in the face of difficult times.
Male factor infertility can be stressful to say the least, but it is not something to be ashamed of. The journey towards pregnancy is different for every couple, and as we’ve discussed here, there are ways of getting around every hurdle. Don’t give up. Don’t blame yourself. Share your story and help destroy the stigma surrounding male infertility.
We hope to enable a conversation that’s currently closeted; men aren’t supposed to care for themselves. Hims disagrees. To do the most good, you must be well. We are one-stop shop for advice, consultation and FDA approved products for everything from hair loss to erectile dysfunction. Our mission is to create an open and empowered culture resulting in more proactivity around men’s health and preventative self-care.