Infertility isn’t just a woman’s issue, and the New York Times’ Hallie Levine does a great job of discussing the male side of the story in Male Infertility: What to Know and How to Cope. It was strange to see my own quote in the article: “My knee jerk reaction was I didn’t want to tell anyone.”
There are moments I still cringe talking about the subject. Fortunately, years of support taught me my sperm count doesn’t make me less of a man. Barb Collura from Resolve pointed out what makes the entire issue so hard for men is watching their partner go through invasive medical procedures because of their condition.
Male infertility inflicts pain on women
I remember feeling guilty when infertility doctors told us we’d need to consider IVF because of problems with my sperm. The ultra-sounds, the shots, blood draws, hormone manipulations, endometriosis surgeries — all of it necessary because of a mysterious affliction with my biology.
Learning I also had many defective sperm in my overall count added to my growing suspicion my genetic deformity was the cause of Lisa’s miscarriages. I never imagined I’d be the source of so much of Lisa’s suffering, and feared I’d be the reason Lisa never had “beloved mother” inscribed on her tombstone
Science doesn’t offer anything new for male infertility
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistic still quotes one in eight couples experience infertility challenges. That’s the same number I’ve quoted the last decade blogging about infertility. Since I moved to New York City, I seem to meet more people with children created with the help of assisted reproduction. Surely the numbers are higher now?
Doctor’s still don’t seem to know much about the causes of male infertility, and treatment options mimic what I was offered 20 years ago. Varicoceles still rank as the most likely cause of low infertility, but in more than 20 percent of cases, I.V.F. is still the recommended course of action.
Male infertility support is now available online
Men don’t want to sit in a support group of women enduring the physical and spiritual pain of infertility treatment, while they complain about feeling inadequate. Now support may be as close as your smartphone in the form of FertiSTRONG, the first fertility app devoted to helping the male psyche through the emotional rigors of infertility.
I had the pleasure of meeting Alice Domar, PhD., at a Mind/Body workshop for infertility when we were still in the thick of our infertility warfare. We added some serious tools to our emotional support tool chest — I still have the cassette player with some of the guided relaxation tapes from the workshop nearly 20 years later.
I’m going to give Dr. Domar’s new app a try and will review my findings in a post in the near future.
There’s no reason to take the strong silent approach
There’s really nothing strong about being silent about male infertility. I tried that approach, and it doesn’t work. The longer I held my tongue about what I was feeling, the more isolated and angry I felt.
Speak up. Speak out. Speak often. Chances are good you’ll find another infertile soul you can help, and won’t feel as alone in your own infertility.