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Myths About Men and Infertility

by Denny Ceizyk
Author, Almost a Father Blog

Published April 2011
Edited May 2011

Myth: “This is ‘her’ problem—I don’t need to be an active participant.”

Busted!: Having a baby, whether it is the result of GOFI (good old fashioned intercourse) or with the help of a reproductive doctor can be one of the most intimate, connecting experiences a couple has.

The Hollywood image of a magical night of lovemaking yielding a positive pee stick result is simply replaced by an extra squeeze of your wife’s hand during an ultrasound, a quick breakfast date and kiss before the morning blood draw, and an extra long hug after an embryo transfer.

When your wife is stressed out waiting for the results of that pregnancy test you can field the insurance questions, be attentive to her preoccupation with whether “this time” a baby is growing inside of her, and be a shoulder to cry on if the pregnancy results come back with a “big fat negative.”

Of course, it might not be just "her problem", which brings us to the next myth…

Myth: “I don’t need to get checked—my boys are just fine.”

Busted!: According to RESOLVE, 30% of infertility is due to male factor. Maybe it’s all the preservatives in food, the chemicals in the air, the consequence of putting off child bearing beyond the years that nature designed for conception to be easiest to accomplish—or maybe a combination of all of the above.

Not “checking your boys” after one year of trying to have a baby on your own is like ignoring the “check engine” light when it first goes on. It could be nothing, but if you let it go, it could cost you far more in the long run that if you just take care of it soon after that warning signal first appears.

A plastic cup, a brown paper bag and about fifteen minutes of your time is all you'll need to diagnose your contribution to that trouble code description.

Myth: “I’m less of a man because I can’t get my wife pregnant.”

Busted!: This is probably the by product of the expression “what’s the matter, you shootin’ blanks” so many guys hear as part of the standard locker room insult fests uttered when a guy of child bearing maturity has not conceived and makes the unfortunate decision to confide in guys that seem to get their wives pregnant by looking at them.

This is really a myth of perspective. You just haven’t gotten your wife pregnant yet, in the way that you hoped it would happen. The most virile man with multi-million sperm count won’t necessarily have a better chance of conceiving if there are complex fertility hurdles to overcome.

You can become more of a man to your wife during the fertility process by learning the lingo and the acronyms for the next procedure so you don’t don that deer in the headlight look when you are in the next consult with your fertility doctor. You can provide an emotional defense system to counter the inevitable insensitive “you just need to relax” or “why don’t you just adopt” comments. You can be the exit strategist at a family gathering, giving the “time to go” sign when things get to an emotional breaking point.

Myth: “Something must be wrong with our marriage if my wife wants a baby so bad.”

Busted!: For many women, having a baby is as biologically necessary as breathing. Feeling a child grow inside of our body is simply something men were not designed to do.

Once a woman has found her soulmate, the natural progression for her is going to be to find her soul baby. It doesn’t come from something lacking in the marriage. In fact it is how fulfilled she is in your marriage that produces the strong urge to see what the miracle of creation will yield—your eyes, her smile, your patience, her temper.

Guys forget that the ability to satisfy the need to have a child started with a marriage where you and your wife declared mutual love for each other. A baby is the ultimate consummation of that love—truly the definition of two souls becoming one.

Myth: “I don’t need to talk to anyone about this. It’s private.”

Busted!: Dealing with infertility requires that guys evolve beyond the ‘strong silent type.’

Finding another couple—especially another guy—who has gone down the infertility path can normalize the experience. RESOLVE statistics show that 1 in 8 couples trying to have a baby will experience some form of infertility. This means an understanding sounding board may be closer than you think.

Support groups, or even therapy with a psychologist who specializes in infertility can be a great benefit to helping adjust to the realities of medically assisted baby making.

Myth: “I can’t let her see how upset I am that this cycle didn’t work.”

Busted!: Most guys think they have to be the proverbial rock of Gibraltar emotionally. But truly being present in the medically assisted baby making efforts sometimes means showing sadness when a cycle doesn’t work.

If you open up and let in the potential for fatherhood—the vision of a future filled with that first bike ride, that first daddy/daughter dance, that afternoon playing ball in the yard as the sun sets and fire flies start to appear, then it is only natural that a negative outcome from a cycle would be disappointing.

Just like shedding tears when a relative or friend of your wife’s dies, the loss of the potential of a cycle is something that can be shared with an open show of emotion. While a medical professional may try to soften the blow saying “it was just a clump of cells” and relatives and friends will try to comfort you with “it just wasn’t meant to be,” it is perfectly normal to view this as the loss of the promise of a child.

Crying, ranting, raving and screaming at the universe alongside your wife can often help connect you both, and release the energy from a negative outcome, allowing you to store up positive energy for the next try.