Men's Infertility Emotions

Men, just like women, cope with infertility in different ways, depending on their desire to have kids; their individual personalities; and the reaction of their spouses/partners to the infertility diagnosis. Whereas some men may feel the same level of devastation often experienced by infertile women, other men may feel that they just aren't as affected as their wives or girlfriends - they may even feel guilty for not being more upset.

"Typical" Male Reactions

While there's really no such thing as a "typical" male response to infertility, men in this situation often report a number of emotions ranging from numbness, to a guilty sense of relief, to utter despair. A man's reaction often depends on the root cause of the infertility.

Male Factor Infertility

Finding out that he is the reason why his partner can't get pregnant can be a tough blow to a man's sense of pride and his masculine identity. Not only does he feel guilty and upset that he's unable to give his partner something that she wants, perhaps even needs, in order to live a fulfilled life, he's now also nursing insecurities about his virility and social status.

He may feel embarrassment at having an infertility-inducing medical condition, and may bottle up his emotions and retreat into himself, causing a sense of loneliness and isolation. He may feel fear that his partner will eventually leave him for a man who can give her a baby. The "routine" of infertility often results in scheduled sexual intercourse, which can affect the levels of desire experienced by both men and women. He may see her decreased libido as evidence that he is now less masculine in her eyes.

Female Factor Infertility

In couples affected by female factor infertility, a man may be stressed and worried about his partner's health as she goes through fertility treatments. He may be at a loss as to how to help her emotionally as the hormone drugs unleash a roller coaster of emotions in her daily life.

He may feel humiliated by discussing intimate details of their sexual relationship with doctors, or by having to undergo physical examinations, or by having to produce semen samples on demand.

Men in this situation have also confessed to feeling secret pangs of extreme guilt, because they weren't sure if they were ready for kids in the first place. Now they feel a mixture of sadness for their wives, but relief on their own part. This is something they often just cannot discuss with their partners, and the guilty feelings can therefore become overwhelming.

Men's Coping Strategies

It's rarer for men than for women to open up to friends and family about their feelings when dealing with infertility. Men may focus on staying calm, suppressing their emotions, and supporting their wives, instead of thinking about themselves. They may divert their attention from the situation at hand by concentrating on work or household and garden tasks. Some men will want to simply "solve" the problem as quickly as possible, and will push their partners to begin fertility treatments right away.

Whatever a man's reaction to infertility, emotional support is available to him. He may feel more in control of the situation if he reads up on fertility treatments and other options for having a family (such as adoption or surrogacy). He may benefit from attending counseling or support groups comprised of other men in the same situation. Seeing a sex therapist is also a possibility for couples whose sex lives are being affected by their infertility.

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