As part of my series on men and fertility, I recently talked about some of the causes and treatments of Male Factor Infertility. Today I want to talk about some tips for coping with male infertility from a psychological standpoint.
Many men can face mental and emotional issues in response to receiving an infertility diagnosis. This adds a heavy burden to the already difficult news of an infertility diagnosis.
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Our current culture tends to present fertility struggles as largely a women’s issue, but the fact is that infertility affects men and women equally. 30-50% of all infertility diagnosis involve male factor infertility in some form.
Men may not be known for their ability to express emotions, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling internally.
Let’s take a look at a few common mental and emotional side effects of male factor infertility.
Mental & Emotional Consequences of dealing with male infertility
Loss of Masculinity
The desire to procreate is inherent in all men. Whether they consciously acknowledge this desire or not, it is part of their programming. It is, for better or worse, tied to our culture’s idea of what is means to be “a real man”.
When you take the possibility of procreation away from them, you are taking away part of their identity on a fundamental level. This can be a huge blow to a man’s view of himself and he may feel a loss of masculinity.
What it means to be and feel “masculine” is somewhat open to interpretation of course, and may mean different things to different men.
It could be perceived as a lack of visible strength and confidence, or on a more personal and emotional level; an inability to be the person you strive to be.
Regardless of your definition, masculinity is an intangible property, and cannot be physically taken away from you. So while you may be feeling this affect, know that you’re still the person you were pre-diagnosis.
But if you feel that you need help coping with male infertility from a third party, you shouldn’t hesitate to seek guidance from a professional counselor.
This excellent book is based on an academic study and explains “why men resist a stigmatizing label like “infertile,” and how men with poor fertility redefine for themselves what it means to be manly and masculine in a society that prizes male virility.”
A loss of masculinity can lead to a loss of confidence in other areas as well. While an infertility diagnosis will not, in itself, cause erectile dysfunction, it can certainly result in feelings of stress and self-doubt.
This can create a snowball effect in your mind, growing and growing until it eventually manifests in an inability to get or sustain an erection.
The worst part about this situation is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You look to sex as a way to de-stress, but then you experience ED which causes even more stress.
The more you tell yourself not to think about it, the more it becomes the only thing you can think about.
The good news is that erectile dysfunction is completely treatable, and it’s more simple than you might think. New telemedicine brands like Hims are are now offering erectile dysfunction solutions online. When you’re battling infertility, confidence is important and ED can be easily solved.
This book is full of tips to help solve E.D and overcome the barriers that cause it in the first place.
A struggle to cope with male infertility can cause depression and emotional issues. Men are often the emotionally reserved one in a relationship. They keep their stresses and worries to themselves in an attempt to provide an emotional stability. This can lead to a sense of isolation when dealing with a diagnosis like infertility.
Combine this isolation with the aforementioned loss of masculinity, lack of confidence, and feelings of self-doubt and the result can be serious cases of depression and anxiety.
The best way to battle these feelings is to surround yourself with a positive and informed support system. Arming yourself with as much knowledge as possible will keep you from feeling like there’s no hope.
Know the myths, know the facts, and know that you are not alone.
Although this book covers many topics including the authors eventual diagnosis with bipolar disease, it is a rare look at infertility from a male perspective.
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