How To Deal With Disappointment and Moving Forward With Fertility Treatment
A male infertility diagnosis can be many things, including a completely unexpected surprise, a confirmed suspicion, or an affirmed knowledge. Regardless of your individual history and how the news arrives, the feelings are generally much the same. Infertility can be a deeply disappointing embarrassment for men who, thanks to outdated societal norms, are still held to a standard where fertility = virility = masculinity = overall value as a person. Of course, this has absolutely no bearing in reality. Infertility issues impact 1 in 4 couples in the United States every year, and half of these are at least partially associated with male factor fertility issues.
So, how does one deal with such a diagnosis? Practically speaking, there are typically next steps as advised by a fertility specialist. Male infertility can be treated in a number of ways, and many have encouraging success rates patients can consider. Fertility specialists have been able to help all types of cases, including low sperm count, no sperm count, groin injuries, and spine injury. You’d be surprised at how far modern reproductive technology has come in the last 5-10 years specifically. Your doctor can recommend the best possible course of treatment for your situation.
However, this doesn’t address the emotional impact of this kind of diagnosis. Unless you have experienced a clear injury that impacts fertility or have a known medical condition that would affect your ability to procreate (a previous cancer diagnosis that was treated with chemotherapy or radiation), this probably came as a surprise. Most young people spend a great deal of time and energy working toward not getting pregnant, so when the time comes to try for pregnancy and nothing happens, an issue just doesn’t make sense. You may find yourself thinking, why is this happening to me? What did I do wrong? How come I don’t know anyone else who has this issue?
These are tough questions, and a lot of the time, there might not be an answer. For most of history, infertility was thought to be a female-only problem. The concept of male sterility was rarely considered and talked about even less. One of the most important things that can happen today is allowing for a safe, comfortable space where men can freely discuss fertility without fear or embarrassment. Infertility is a medical condition, just like asthma or depression. It does not reflect poorly on you as a person, as a man, as a partner, or anything else. One of the best things anyone struggling with infertility can do is connect with a support group (in-person or online) where you can talk without worrying about being judged. There are also a number of online communities and forums where male fertility is addressed openly.
We’ve come a long way since previous generations, not just in acknowledging that male infertility exists, but that it is not a personal flaw someone should be ashamed of. We still have a long way to go, but progress in such areas can be a slower crawl. Men should know that they are very much not alone, that they do have places in their lives where support can be found, and that infertility is a medical diagnosis, not a character flaw.