Facing Fertility Challenges

When a woman wants a baby and is having trouble getting pregnant, there's precious little that will get in her way in terms of discovering why she can't conceive. She's willing to take any test the doctor recommends, regardless how inconvenient or how much time she has to spend. Men, on the other hand, tend to handle these things from an entirely different perspective and they can view the process with hostility. Call it male pride, or fear. The truth is somewhere in the middle for most men.

Male Culture - "I Don't Need A Doctor"

Dr. Paul Turek, a fertility specialist and founder of The Turek Clinic, a fertility clinic which specializes in male reproductive care, believe women often miss the point. He says that the culture of men is such that going to a doctor for anything is contrary to a man's basic nature. As a rule, men don't seek medical help until or unless they are in pain or are basically forced by a loved one.

Men have a great deal of pride about their ability to procreate and when that aspect of their life is challenged, it can be a very bitter pill. Women can help their men in this regard by taking the tact that going to see a specialist would be something he would do for her. Dr. Turek says, "Men, even if they want a baby, will be most motivated if they are doing it for their wives." He goes on, "Even if they won't go see a doctor for themselves, men are often happy to do it for someone else. It should be a very positive, very helpful thing."

First Comes Denial...

The most frequent first response to a request for a man to have a sperm test is denial. It may feel like an assault to his ego, admitting there may be something problematic with his ability to reproduce. "Gender education and cultural underpinning indicates a man has to be fertile and reproductive," says Dr. Daniela E. Schreier, a licensed clinical psychologist. With the stereotypical inference that strong men are fertile men in their thinking, a man may view having a sperm test as a sign of weakness and cause him to wonder about his own manhood.

"As long as a man is conflict and problem avoidant, he will not want to admit he may have a part in it because with knowledge comes responsibility, which means co-joint action, activity and problem solving rather than blaming," says Dr. Schreier.

...Then Comes A Working Through

The biggest key for men to be able to overcome this mindset is a caring and sensitive partner who will encourage and support him. By taking the time to discuss the situation in the context of becoming a family, that having a child is something both partners want, then the situation becomes one of focusing on a solution rather than fixing blame. Seeing a specialist in a fertility clinic together makes it a team effort.

Some women do seek the help of a fertility counselor who may be able to help with suggestions on how to involve her partner. By encouraging early involvement, it is possible to have both members of the couple actively involved in decision making.