Infertility: Not Just for Women Only
Dear Mr. Dad: A few years ago, you wrote a column about male infertility. I remember being surprised, since I’d always thought women were the only ones who had fertility problems. But now, after several years of being unable to conceive, I just found out that, just like the man who’d written to you back then, that the issue is mine. And, like him, I’m shattered. I’m thrashing around, looking for anything I can do to undo whatever the problems are and to feel like a man again. Is there anything I should do—or stop doing—that can help?
A: Yes, there is hope. But you need to start be being a little nicer to yourself. As you discovered, fertility issues most definitely affect men and women equally: About 40% of fertility problems are the woman’s, 40% are the man’s, and the remaining 20% are simply unexplained. My guess that part of the misconception (so to speak) that fertility is a women’s issue has to do with the fact that most fertility doctors are OB/GYNs.
Infertile women are often anxious, stressed, depressed, and feel like failures as women and partners. For men, there’s a lot of macho tied up in being able to get a woman pregnant. Many new dads I’ve interviewed say they experienced a sense of virility and pride when the pregnancy test came back positive. It was like a confirmation that everything was in working order—which comes as quite a relief to some. Men who can’t impregnate their partner have many of the same feelings that women—and you—do.
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