Getting Help and Coping with Male Infertility
Infertility doesn’t impact every person in the exact same way. Consequently, not all men will handle their infertility in a textbook manner. Some men will bounce back more quickly than others, and some will seem unaffected by infertility. While their coping styles may differ from their female counterparts, men nevertheless experience a range of emotions and must develop a successful way to process the situation.
Coping Mechanisms for Men
Men utilize a variety of strategies to deal with their infertility. Often they will focus on other areas of their lives that enhance their self-esteem. Positive feedback from employers, teammates or others who recognize their accomplishments may ease the pain of infertility. Men may also engage in activities to improve their marriages as a method to compensate for their perceived biological “failure.”
Limited resources for men struggling with infertility often cause the male partners to handle infertility in their own way. Women may more readily solicit help from counselors, friends or family members, but a man may not want to seek outside support, especially from those he knows.
Some men deal with the emotions caused by infertility in unhealthy ways, such as:
- Overcompensating in other areas of life, including work, community involvement or sports.
- Completely avoiding any thoughts about infertility or treatment options.
- Suppressing emotions and releasing them through anger and blame.
Tip: Engage your partner in problem-solving activities related to infertility treatment, and consider discussing alternative family-building strategies as healthy means of coping with the situation.
Dealing with Your Infertility
If you are dealing with infertility, seeking out assistance can make all the difference. Exercise creates a positive release for pent-up feelings and energy, providing relief for the body, mind and spirit. Yoga, running, water sports or other physical activities give patients a mental break and allow them a chance to burn off some of the physical angst.
Tip: Counseling, joining a support group, opening up to a friend or visiting a spiritual advisor may help you process your thoughts and emotions during this difficult time.
Remember that this journey will hopefully end with a pregnancy or an adopted child. Along the way, we encourage couples to keep the channels of communication open so that these difficulties will strengthen their relationships, rather than tear them apart.
Where to Find Support
If you struggle with infertility, find healthy, positive avenues for your emotions. Look for resources that enable you to express your feelings and deal with the situation in a positive manner:
- Ask your reproductive endocrinologist about support groups for men struggling with infertility.
- Share your thoughts with your partner — she may feel the same way.
- Become informed about male infertility. If you feel uncomfortable in a library or bookstore, research the information online.
Tip: Navigating the Internet can be a tricky proposition. We encourage you to visit sites that we believe offer reliable, useful information. Check out Coping with Infertility: A Couple’s Guide for a list of Web sites we recommend.