Men often don't have support to help them cope with infertility
Where is the infertility fraternity?

After my blog on Tuesday singing the praises of the Infertility Sorority, a couple of people commented lamenting the lack of an infertility fraternity. It’s true that there are few places for the guys to get support leaving many men with the feeling that they alone are suffering from the disease of male infertility. They alone can’t give their wife the baby they both crave.

One man posted:

There is definitely a sorority for woman when it comes to IF on the web. I am glad because I can only imagine what it was like for woman before the internet and having even fewer places to turn to.

However, what is lacking is a fraternity for men going through IF. I know part of it is due to the nature of men and their inability to open up about it. The idea that opening up somehow makes them weaker is a myth that men have. As a male going through IF (azoospermia) I have been able to find very few resources for men. Even resolve’s awareness week last week had next to nothing on the male perspective. At times I feel a bit awkward posting on sites that are female dominated but it seems to be the majority of forums out there. I also understand that I am unusual (in more ways than one) in that I have been more open about my IF. But it still would be nice to have that fraternity.

On yesterday’s Creating a Family Show on Getting Pregnant with Male Infertility, Dr. Mann said that anywhere from 30-40% of infertile couples suffer from male factor fertility issues. That’s a whole lot of potential recruits for this fraternity, but I have a strong sense that any infertility fraternity would be doomed to fail.

Why It’s Hard for the Infertile Guys

I think the commenter is right that many men have a problem opening up about infertility. Our society tends to equate masculinity with virility, which makes it particularly difficult for infertile men. We also tend to discount the desire many men feel to be a dad. There is precious little societal sympathy for infertility in general, but what exists tends to flow to the women.

But even if we could rectify the lack of understanding for male infertility, I still don’t think we’d have many pledges for our infertility fraternity because men don’t go online for support in general. Heck, for that matter, they don’t go all that often to in person support groups either, unless court or wife mandated.

Why It’s Hard for the Infertile Women

Maybe I’m being sexist, but it seems that most men I know get their infertility education and support from their wives.  Being supportive of each other draws many couples together, but it can place a huge burden on women to have to carry the emotional load for the couple.

One woman emailed:

Dawn, I could not have remained sane without my “infertility sorority” friends. They’ve saved my life and made this awful experience a little less painful. I wish my husband could find similar support. He needs it so bad, but I need for him to have it too. I’m the only one he talks with. He hasn’t even told his family about his/our infertility. I have to hold all of our worry and pain as a couple and all the responsibility of deciding what to do. Infertile men need outside support too.

What’s been your experience?  Would your guy join any infertility fraternity? Do you (or did you) carry the infertility emotional weight in your family? Did it feel like a burden or a welcomed load?

I hope the guy who left me that comment takes me up on my encouragement to join the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group. I can’t promise a lot of men, although there are some, but I can promise a lot of really supportive women.

The Creating a Family show on Getting Pregnant with Male Infertility was really interesting, and one of our guests is the current President of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology. The two doctors debunked a lot of myths. It’s an hour well spent, so listen right here or download it to your phone and listen while you drive, run, or cook.


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What We Talked About On the Male Infertility Show:

  • How common is infertility in men?
  • The first step in diagnosing male infertility is a standard semen analysis. Is it important that this first test be done by a specialized doctor or can you use your internist or RE or family doctor to preform this test.
  • Should you ask for anything specific or special to be done with the first test?
  • How long should the man have gone without sex to get the best representative sample?
  • A semen analysis tests for volume, count, motility and morphology. Which one is more likely to be the problem. Which is the most common?
  • For couples who want to try everything they can to up their odds before they go through fertility treatment, should they try the menstrual cups —Diva or Instead are two brands–after intercourse?
  • What is the optimal frequency of intercourse to increase the odds of a natural conception when trying to get pregnant?
  • Has research shown that a specific diet or foods will positively or negatively affect male fertility?
  • Do soy products negatively affect a man’s fertility or sperm count?
  • How is male infertility treated? What is the best male infertility treatment? How to get pregnant if your husband is infertile?
  • How do you know if you should try IUI first or go directly to IVF if your spouse has male factor infertility?
  • Is ICSI routine now with IVF if any male infertility is involved? Should it be?
  • We mentioned the recent research on the safety of IVF and IVF/ICSI on the children conceived. We talked about this research in detail on a recent Creating a Family show–How Does Fertility Treatment Affect the Babies.
  • How are the sperm to be used for ICSI chosen?
  • How does a man’s weight affect his fertility or sperm count?
  • Why does obesity cause infertility?
  • How to choose sperm from a sperm bank?
  • Is sperm from a sperm bank safe?
  • Do cell phones cause or contribute to male infertility or a lower sperm count?


Image credit: SirAdderley (great photo)