Coping with Male Infertility: A Guide for Men
This is part one of a two-part series on "Coping with Male Infertility." You can also check out our tips for women who are dealing with a partner's infertility.
The infertility support community rarely targets the male population. But guys, this one is for you. If you are dealing with infertility, you may be thinking one of these thoughts:
- I feel like a failure.
- This can't be happening to me.
- I can't provide my wife with what she wants.
- I need to man up and be strong for my partner.
- I can handle this just fine on my own.
Whether you are feeling like a failure, or feel like you are handling it just fine, you may benefit from infertility support.
Talk about your feelings
When you are diagnosed with male infertility, it can feel like a tragic loss. You may try to tough it out, refusing help from others. If that's how you deal with your problems, that's fine. But it's also OK to let yourself mourn. When coping with infertility, keep your communication channels open. It can help you to talk about your feelings. We're not recommending a therapy group necessarily (although those can be beneficial). But you can open up to your partner, a friend, your doctor, or a therapist, if you so choose. And if you notice signs that you are not coping with infertility as well as you would like, ask for help.
Here are some troublesome signs to watch for when coping with infertility:
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
- Acting angry, irritable, or abusive
- Engaging in risky behavior or having suicidal thoughts
- Feeling sad or less interested in things you used to enjoy
- Feeling tired, sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping
If these symptoms persist most of the day for several days a week or more, talk to a doctor or counselor specializing in infertility. Professional infertility support is available to help you learn better ways of coping with infertility.
Incorporate healthy coping skills
We all vary in our response to stress. Some of us are naturally, and possibly genetically, more resilient to stress than others. Others may let infertility stress build up until it explodes. When infertility gets the best of you, try:
- Moving. Lift weights, shoot hoops, run, swim, and get active several times a week.
- Relaxing. Get a massage, explore yoga or tai chi, spend time with friends, and be sure to get plenty of sleep.
- Writing. Start a blog or email yourself thoughts about infertility.
- Crying. Not always a favorite of men, but crying is healing, and may leave you in a more relaxed state. We don't let ourselves cry enough.
- Laughing. Humor is fun and can also be therapeutic.
In sickness and in health
Infertility websites, blogs, and even reality television shows make it seem as though the infertility community is made up entirely of women. It's not. Male infertility causes a third to half of all infertility problems. While infertility brings pain and sorrow like few other life experiences, remember that most couples do eventually conceive. Those that don't may choose to adopt or find peace with childfree living. At some point, your infertility journey will come to an end. When that time comes, you will have hopefully maintained a strong, healthy relationship. Let your partner know how much, and how often, you want to share your infertility story with others. Let her know if you prefer to keep it private, between the two of you and your fertility doctors only. Compromise, set limits, and agree on the time, energy, and financial commitments you make for this infertility journey. If you get stuck, infertility support can help you both get through.