Ownership may seem like a silly term to use when talking about a disease (and let us not forget that infertility is a disease!), but it seems to me that in many relationships one partner steps to the plate and claims the responsibility–the ownership if you will—of the couple’s infertility. This someone is often the woman—okay, let’s be perfectly honest here, at the beginning it is almost always the woman. This pattern of dealing with a disease is counterproductive on so many different levels.
At the very beginning, back when the first little niggling of concern raised its ugly head, it’s fine and dandy for one person to start the ball rolling. [I swear that pun was not intended.] That person is logically the one who is the most ready to start a family, or the one who tends towards anxiety or pessimism, or the one with the research bent. If that’s the woman, so be it. But soon, very soon, both partners need to get involved.
First Test That’s Often Avoided
One of the worst things about the woman owning the couple’s infertility is that is often results in a delay in getting a semen analysis. I frequently hear from women who are hesitant to insist that their husband get tested because he is squeamish at the thought. I do understand. I totally get why someone might want to avoid sitting in a room full of people who know “why you are there” and then watch you leave that room knowing “what you are going to do”. Why someone might want to be anywhere else other than in a small room, with people walking and talking right outside the door, perusing someone else’s idea of erotica, man-handling the family jewels [that pun was absolutely intended], and submitting your best work (under the circumstances) for judgment. That’s not anyone’s idea of a day at the park.
Regardless how uncomfortable it is, a semen analysis should be one of the first tests run when a couple is having trouble getting pregnant, even before they seek treatment at an infertility clinic. It is less expensive and less invasive than most fertility testing on the woman, and can uncover the sole cause of the couple’s infertility roughly 10-15% of the time and a contributing cause in up to 30-40% of cases. We have extensive resources on male infertility, including two videos.
How to Help Your Guy
I strongly recommend you buy your guy a copy of:
- How to Make Love to a Plastic Cup: A Guy’s Guide to the World of Infertility, and have him listen to my interview with the author, Greg Wolf.
- Swimming In Circles: A Baby Chase Odyssey by Michael Barr. He can listen to my interview with Michael as well. He is a blogger, sports columnist, and dad, and we talk about infertility, male infertility, how the wife’s infertility affects the husband.
He can listen to either show through the computer, phone, or tablet. He won’t ever relish the idea of testing, but at least he’ll feel less alone and will have a chuckle or two over the indignities.
Infertility is a couple’s disease, regardless who in the relationship has the actual diagnosis. Ownership can be mighty lonely. Who owns the infertility in your relationship?
Image credit: jessica.hawkins11