How Infertility Affects Him
Fertility issues can come as a shock to a couple. Many couples spend years using birth control trying not to get pregnant. If the day comes they’d like to try to conceive, and they realize they can’t, it can turn their world on its head. It can feel like everybody is getting pregnant—whether they want to or not—and the fact that they can’t feels like pulling the one losing lottery ticket. Infertility affects men and women very differently because parenthood can mean such different things to each gender. If you and your partner recently found out that he struggles with fertility issues, you may be ready to go into attack mode, looking up alternative options and making every appointment with every fertility specialist. But take a beat, because your partner is going through some emotional turmoil he may not be sharing. Here is how infertility affects men.
He feels he’s let you down
He loves you and he wants to give you everything you want in life—the house you want, the social life you want, and the baby you want. On a very basic level, he feels like he’s failing as a provider.
He feels stifled
If your partner is successful in every other area of life and makes a lot of money, he can feel particularly stifled by this event. There’s never been an issue that money couldn’t fix, but this could be one.
He’s thinking of his family
Men, perhaps more than women, feel a pressure to keep their family’s bloodline alive. So your partner could be feeling that, on top of disappointing you, he’s disappointing generations of his family.
He feels defective
You know men feel very closely tied to their sexual organs; that comes as no surprise. They name their penises, for goodness sake. So when a man finds out his business can’t, well, do business it can make him feel like his body is defective.
His libido will suffer
As a result of the last point, your partner’s libido will probably suffer. This is an added complication to using methods like fertility drugs to try to conceive.
He’ll feel inferior
Your partner might start saying things like, “I’m not good enough for you” or “You deserve to be with somebody who can give you a child.” Men can feel like infertility is some sort of cosmic sign that they aren’t worthy of you.
Men tend to be less willing to seek help for fertility issues than women are. You know how men don’t like to stop and ask for directions but women will? It’s a bit like that.
They’re private about it
Men are typically less willing to open up to friends and family about private matters in their relationship, and infertility will be no different. While you may want to talk to friends and family about it to get emotional support, your partner might insist you keep the matter private.
They can’t pass on their values
When women think of motherhood, they think a lot about nurturing a child. When men think about fatherhood, they think about turning a little man into a grown man who shares their values. Your partner is grieving the fact that he doesn’t get to put another version of himself out in the world.
They spent all those years using condoms for nothing? (This thought will briefly cross their mind before they remember the existence of sexually transmitted diseases.)
Embarrassment in front of your parents
Your partner has always worked so hard for the approval of your parents. Now he has to look them in the eye and tell them he may be the reason they don’t get to have grandchildren.
Fertility treatment can be very expensive, as can other options like adoption or surrogate mothers. Your partner likely had very specific plans in mind for that money, and it wasn’t this, which can leave him feeling very torn and frustrated about his income.
It’s normal for a man to begin to wonder if he did this to himself because of the curable STD he got in college, or because of all the recreational drugs he tried back in the day, or the football injuries.
Disconnect from the baby
Men already feel disconnected from the process of making a baby because they do not carry a fetus in their body. If, now, you need to turn to artificial insemination, adoption, or other methods, they feel even more left out of the process.
Realizing they are infertile can make men worry more about other medical conditions. Men facing fertility issues can start to believe they are suffering other medical problems.