A diagnosis of male factor infertility often triggers emotional responses that can vary. You may initially feel shocked, sometimes angry or scared and overwhelmed by your diagnosis, which can cause you to see yourself as imperfect.
Such diagnosis could make you develop a sense of failure and feel you will miss out on an important life experience. Be reassured that these effects are not unusual in fact they are quite common, but professional and group support can help you navigate this trying period.
If you feel uncomfortable expressing depression and sadness, your outward reactions may initially come out as verbal anger, a more socially acceptable mode of expression.
This anger may change to other less comfortable emotions, such as grief, causing you to further retreat and repress other emotional responses.
When you have received the diagnosis of male factor infertility, you often feel responsible, especially if the condition relates to any earlier life event. Typical examples are sports injuries, childhood illnesses and other contributing factors.
When fertility issues arise with you the male partner, you may struggle with feeling inadequate. Most men often equate their manliness with their ability to impregnate their wives.
If you have ever encountered a proud father boast about his “strong sons”, you would probably see this correlation.
The feelings of inadequacy are triggered when you are unable to fulfill this basic need. Feelings of inadequacy are amplified when during fertility testing you have to undergo what is seen as embarrassing examinations to discover the root cause.
Certainly, fertility issues highlight how little control we have over our bodies. Men need to feel empowered in their lives, when a man suddenly discovers that he can’t control his ability to procreate, this revelation can be unsettling.
One of the common thoughts of failure is the need for a particular sex. In this environment, the desire for male children is paramount.
Couples have wanted to produce male heirs because survival of the family line and the family name depended on sons. In many African cultures today, these thoughts still prevail, adding to a man’s struggle.
The notion of continuing a genetic line has strong emotional connections for many men, particularly those who are ‘only’ sons. Infertility can mean not only the inability to pass along the family name, but also the family genes.
Quite a number of men battling infertility are battling with lost dreams. For instance, questioning whether or not you’ll ever have children is like facing the fact that you might not have an heir to carry on the family name.
When a man suffers from male factor infertility, guilt is a common response. You know that your spouse wants children and the guilt arises because you feel like a hindrance to that dream. Rationally, you may see that no one deserves blame, but that knowledge may not resolve your emotions tied to infertility.
Sexual problems can surface with a diagnosis of male factor infertility. Erectile dysfunction and loss of desire can occur. When you question your masculinity, you may worry so much about your ability to function as a “man” and find yourself unable to achieve or maintain an erection. These same concerns can rob you of a desire for sex.
Infertility is the inability to achieve conception despite one year of frequent unprotected intercourse. Of infertile couples without treatment, 25 percent to 35 percent will conceive at some time by intercourse alone. Within the first 2 years, 23 percent will conceive, whereas an additional 10 percent will do so within 2 more years. Generally speaking, if a pregnancy does not occur by three years, persistent infertility is very likely in the absence of medical intervention.
The basic workup for the suspected infertile man includes an interview, physical examination, and laboratory work. Your past medical history, sexual history, and social history are ascertained. Pertinent social history includes excessive smoking, drinking, and recreational drug use.
Laboratory assessments include a semen analysis that examines sperm count, ability of sperm to swim (motility), velocity or forward progression of the sperm, size and shape of the sperm (morphology), total semen volume, and the liquefaction of the semen (the ability to go from a normal gel-like state at ejaculation to a liquid state).
Treatment may remove the privacy of sex because diagnostic procedures can require sex on demand, which further aggravates these problems. The strain of worry and frustration can remove fun and intimacy from your sexual relationship.
Your marriage may suffer; you may feel as though you have let your wife down. The stress can spill over into the marital relationship, but there is hope.
Other relationships can suffer the impact of male factor infertility. You may avoid relatives and friends who have children of their own.
As a man you may feel less comfortable discussing your emotions with friends and co-workers, because these interactions don’t offer supportive outlets for frustrations, which may cause you to further withdraw.
On the flip side, infertility can also draw you and your partner closer together, particularly when either of you sees it as a team effort to overcome the problem.