Ending the Stigma of Male Factor Infertility
It’s estimated that approximately 50% of all infertility cases can be partially attributed to male factor infertility. However, in spite of its prevalence, male fertility issues are often ignored in conversations about fertility. Not only do many people incorrectly believe that fertility only affects women, but there is also a heavy stigma that keeps men from being open about their fertility struggles, often resulting in feelings of shame and isolation.
However, there is nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to male factor infertility. It doesn’t signify weakness or lack of masculinity – it just means that sperm sometimes need a little help. If we looked at male infertility as a medical condition and not a personal defect, then we would be able to overcome the stigma of male infertility and create a space in which men would feel supported.
National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), which occurs every year in late April, provides men with the opportunity to take part in the conversation about infertility. While the idea of being vulnerable and sharing your story with others can seem scary, it’s an important step in ending the stigma of male infertility. Furthermore, you might be surprised to find how liberating it is to be open and honest.
If you feel ready and comfortable, there are several ways that you can share your story during National Infertility Awareness Week, which takes place April 18-24 this year.
The NIAW 5 Day Challenge
NIAW’s biggest social media campaign this year is the NIAW 5 Day Challenge. Starting on Monday, April 19, each day of the photo challenge features a different hashtag and theme to prompt people to share their infertility stories:
‑ On Monday, April 19, share your story by posting a video on your social media platform of choice that features you talking about what it’s like to live with infertility.
‑ On Tuesday, April 20, use the hashtag #IRepresentSomeoneWho to talk about what you represent in the fertility care community.
‑ On Wednesday, April 21, take a selfie of yourself wearing orange and share your story using the hashtag #WearOrange.
‑ On Thursday, April 22, tell the world what you wish other people knew about what it’s like to live with infertility. Be sure to use the hashtag #WhatIWantYoutoKnow.
‑ On Friday, April 23, show off your solidarity with the fertility community by using the hashtag #RESOLVEStrong in a post.
Other Ways to Get Involved
If you don’t feel comfortable talking about your infertility experience, that’s OK. Infertility is a difficult journey and it’s up to each person to determine what they’re willing to share with the world. If you still want to get involved, you can participate in fundraising activities, post facts about fertility as an ally, or attend a virtual webinar. No matter how involved you are during NIAW, the important thing to keep in mind is that male factor infertility needs to be brought out of the shadows and into the light. The more we change the way we think about male infertility, the more able we will be to change the conversation.