It is not easy to be a man in America. Cultural and media messages seem to provide an ever-moving target for male identity.
“Be sensitive, but not too sensitive.”
“Anger is acceptable, sadness is not.”
“Take care of your problems, do not ask for help.”
“Relationships are important but swallow your emotions—be tough!”
“Play sports, be good at them, and if you’re hurt—get back out there!”
The last message is a common one boys will take on early in life. We have all seen the game where the athlete is hurt but wants to keep playing. Maybe the coach calls a time-out, the athlete is taken out of the game, or even heads to the locker room. But not much time passes before they are right back in there…much to the crowd’s amazement (and often, encouragement). If the athlete wants to continue their season and not just finish this game, he will have to take responsibility for communicating the severity of his injury…to himself, the trainers, and the coach. There is a whole system working against this honest communication.
Honest communication, especially when there is pain involved, is not encouraged among men. This idea follows men in every aspect of their lives…including their fertility. Studies on female infertility far outpace those on male infertility. Typically, in medicine, it is the other way around. Male infertility is perceived as the anomaly. So, there is even more reason not to discuss male infertility or the pain that surrounds it.
But there are good reasons to open this conversation, at the very least between a husband and wife. The longer a man goes without acknowledging the pain, the worse it is going to get. Acknowledging the pain, instead of pretending it’s not there, gives the couple an opportunity to take control of next steps. Whether that be continuing fertility treatments, pursuing counseling, or even just taking a break.
Many couples who have faced male-factor infertility have successfully built their families through embryo adoption! To learn more about embryo adoption and donation, visit EmbryoAdoption.org.