Not getting pregnant brings up different emotional issues of infertility for men and women. Here, a fertility specialist discusses how men and women process infertility issues differently, and offers tips for dealing with the “trying to conceive” process.
First, here are a few emotions that not getting pregnant often triggers:
“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 who are dealing with the emotional issues of infertility. Reading books like A Few Good Eggs can help couples cope. And, here is embryologist Stacie Hill’s advice on understanding how infertility affects men and women differently….
Not Getting Pregnant? Understand the Emotional Issues of Infertility
Women are often more proactive about infertility issues and their health when seeking medical advice or considering different types of fertility tests. 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 in a marriage or relationship. It may help women to consider the man’s perspective when seeking outside help to get pregnant.
Making the appointment for fertility testing is difficult for men with fertility issues. First of all, there is the barrier of actually making the appointment and giving the semen specimen to the lab. Men are sometimes embarrassed to give a semen specimen at the clinic (a sample can provide valuable information about sperm count, production, and motility). Using the collection room, which is usually a bathroom with some adult magazines, can make men very uncomfortable, especially when they can hear people walking or talking nearby. And, having to “perform on command” can be daunting for some men, which increases their stress level. If the fertility clinic allows men to collect their specimen at home, it can give him the freedom to produce the specimen comfortably.
The possibility of infertility. Another emotional issue of infertility is the fear of the test results. Many men identify their masculinity with their performance and the quality of their sperm. Even the possibility of getting a diagnosis of a poor semen analysis result can be difficult for men to cope with.
Women need to consider their partners’ perspective — just like men need to help women cope with the emotional issues of infertility. He may be dealing with embarrassment, fear of negative test results, an uncertain identity of himself as a man, and perhaps even religious issues. These can be very real problems for a couple coping with infertility. In fact, research shows that it can take a man several months to go in for a semen analysis after it’s been ordered.
Men can feel left out of the “let’s get pregnant” process, with “the couple” becoming the woman and her doctor. Suddenly, the doctor becomes the person who is going to get the woman pregnant; a further challenge to the man’s masculinity and role in the relationship. Being sensitive to this and including your man in the “let’s get pregnant” process or infertility treatments can help.
Accept that your man may not want to be involved in the fertility process. Women tend to learn all they can about getting pregnant, tracking their menstrual cycles and watching for all the signs of ovulation. Men take a more laid back, simplistic approach.
Recognizing these differences can help men and women cope with the emotional issues of infertility; the man and the woman can balance each other.
If your relationship is rocky because you’re not getting pregnant, read Tips for Keeping Your Marriage Strong in Infertility.
If you have any questions or thoughts about men, women, and infertility, please comment below…
To learn more about Stacie Hill, go to Conceivex.