Infertility affects 1 in 7 couples and impacts both men and women in the UK. Male infertility can be the sole cause in around 30% of cases and despite the figures, is often neglected in discussions around infertility.
In this blog, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about male factor infertility, including the stigma around male infertility; prevention techniques; and the support available. If you are concerned about your fertility, book a semen analysis with our specialist CREATE Fertility team today to see how we can help.
Stigma and taboos surrounding male factor infertility
When faced with a diagnosis of male factor infertility, some argue that men are unsupported due to society's expectations around how they ‘should’ react when faced with personal turmoil. Men are expected to be tough, unemotional and to not want to talk about infertility.
So, just because men are perceived in this way, are we suggesting they don’t experience feelings of pain, loss, anger, guilt and embarrassment when diagnosed with infertility? When asked, men often express that problems with fertility challenge their sense of masculinity and leaves them feeling embarrassed and isolated.
Facing the emotional trauma of infertility diagnosis can be a very painful experience for men, with some experiencing symptoms of depression as a result. In order to address this stigma, we must focus on prevention, support networks and opening up the conversation around male factor infertility.
Can you prevent male factor infertility?
Understanding fertility is crucial in helping to prevent male infertility and it is important that both men and women are equipped with the knowledge that fertility declines with age, with the quality and quantity of men’s sperm decreasing from age 45.
There are also many lifestyle factors that can have a negative impact on sperm function, including:
- high alcohol intake
- drug use
- bad diet
These are just a few of the lifestyle factors that you can consider to improve your fertility. Making better choices and looking after your physical and emotional wellbeing can help improve sperm quality, alongside many other benefits.
What support is available for men with fertility issues?
There is no right or wrong strategy for dealing with infertility and although some can be more beneficial than others, it is up to you how you would like to start your fertility journey.
Being proactive and doing research into what your options are can be a positive way to start. It is important to know that, if you want to conceive, there may be options available. Joining information events like CREATE's Virtual Information Event is a good way to understand different approaches to treatment and also gather as much information as possible before making any decisions.
If you are considering fertility treatment, the clinic staff will play a big role in your overall experience, so visiting the clinic for open days and meeting clinical staff can be very useful.
If you are struggling, support networks are very important. You will be surprised to know how many of your contemporaries are facing similar challenges to you, and there are plenty of resources out there to confide in other men also facing infertility challenges.
Generally, continuing with things you enjoy doing can be a great coping strategy. Whether it be engaging in social activities, hobbies, exercising or spending time with family and friends, it can all positively impact your wellbeing.
If you are struggling, seek support. Opening up to a family member, friend or counselling professional, will help to alleviate any negative feelings.
Feel free to also explore a number of additional resources to support your fertility journey below:
-Fertility Network UK: https://fertilitynetworkuk.org/
-The National Infertility Support & Information Group: http://nisig.com/
-Fertility Matters: http://fertilitymatters.org.uk/
-Fertility Friends: http://www.fertilityfriends.co.uk/forum/
We are also here to support you. If you would like to discuss your fertility in more detail then our experienced patient support team can help and offer free, impartial advice so please contact us.