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Talking About Infertility With Your Partner

These tips on talking about infertility with your partner are from Stacie Hill, an embryologist at Conceivex. She has 13 years of “hands-on” experience in reproductive medicine.

“When you can’t get pregnant, you swim in a mix of emotions,” write Julie Vargo and Maureen Regan in A Few Good Eggs. “You feel insecure (how the hell did this happen to me?), inferior (if I can’t have a baby, I must not be enough of a woman), scared (how am I going to get out of this mess?), mad (how the hell did this happen to me?), and frustrated (what does that mean?).” 

Insecurity, inferiority, fear, anger, and frustration are commonly felt by both men and women when it comes to fertility issues. If you’re a couple coping with infertility, click on the book cover of A Few Good Eggs to learn more about the infertility roller coaster. And, read on for Stacie Hill’s advice on how to talk about infertility with your partner…. 

How to Talk About Infertility With Your Partner

It’s common for women to be more proactive about infertility issues and their health when seeking medical advice or considering fertility testing.  This can be especially true when a couple is trying to conceive.  There is often a greater reluctance on the part of men to seek infertility help, and this can create tension for a couple.  It may help women to consider the man’s perspective when involving outside help to achieve a pregnancy. Read Tips for Keeping Your Marriage Strong in Infertility for relationship help!

Making the appointment for fertility testing. First of all, there is the barrier of actually making the appointment and giving the semen specimen to the lab.  Men often don’t want to have to collect a semen specimen at the clinic, which can be embarrassing.  Using the collection room, which is usually a bathroom with some adult magazines, can make men very uncomfortable, especially when the walls are not sound proof and they can hear people walking or talking nearby. For help choosing a specialist, read 5 Tips for Choosing an Infertility Clinic.

Performing on command. Having to “perform on command” can be daunting for some men, increasing their stress level.  It helps to ask if the fertility clinic allows men to collect their specimen at home.  This can give a man the freedom to produce the specimen in the comfort of his own surroundings.  His wife may offer to take the cup into the lab for him, to avoid the awkwardness of facing the lab staff. 

Fear of infertility. The next barrier is the fear of the results.  Many men identify their masculinity with their sexual performance and the quality of their sperm.  Even the possibility of getting a negative diagnosis in the form of a poor semen analysis result can stop a man in his tracks. 

Wives should consider husbands’ perspective:  the embarrassment, the fear of negative results, the potential attack on his identity as a man, and possibly religious reasons.  These can be very real issues and cause a man to drag his feet.  Studies have shown that it can take a man several months to go in for a semen analysis, after it has been ordered. 

The idea of getting a semen analysis done can be discussed from a financial standpoint.  The test is usually one of the least expensive fertility tests available and may be covered by insurance.  Also, the results can give the couple peace of mind; they know what they’ll be facing. To learn about the cost of infertility, read How Much Do Infertility Treatments Cost?

Men can definitely feel left out of the process, with “the couple” becoming the woman and her doctor.  Suddenly, the doctor becomes the person who is going to get her pregnant; a further challenge to his masculinity and role in the relationship.  Being sensitive to this and offering to include your partner as much as possible can help.  If you are using an at-home method, such as the Conception Kit, it can help you to restore privacy and intimacy when trying to conceive.

Remember that it is possible that your partner may not want to be more involved in the fertility process.  Women tend to really dig in and learn all that they can, tracking their cycles religiously and watching for all the fertility signs.  Men take a more laid back, simplistic approach.  Realizing these differences can be a strength; the man and the woman can balance each other out.  It is important not to insist that he reacts the same way that you do to the challenges of trying to conceive.  Let him be himself, appreciate him for who he is, and don’t push him too hard.

If you have any questions or thoughts about talking about infertility with your partner, please comment below!

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For more info about current reproductive technology, visit Conceivex, where Stacie works as a Customer Service Manager.

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