6. What emotions might my guy experience as he goes through infertility treatments?
He may be riding an emotional roller coaster, but depending on his communication style, he may not show it. Encourage your partner to open up to you or a professional counselor experienced in working with couples dealing with infertility.
"The diagnosis of male factor infertility often comes as a shock, as the inability to become pregnant is traditionally assumed to be a woman's problem," says Sharon Covington, M.S.W., L.C.SW.-C., Director of Psychological Support Services at Shady Grove Fertility Center. "It's often experienced as an assault on a man's self-esteem and self-image, as much of society communicates that fertility and virility are linked. Thus, if a man cannot impregnate is wife, is he really a man?"
The answer to that question is another myth busted by Celzyk and RESOLVE. "Dealing with infertility requires that guys evolve beyond the 'strong silent type,'" Celzyk says. "This is really a myth of perspective. You just haven't gotten your wife pregnant yet, in the way that you hoped it would happen. But the most virile man with a multimillion sperm count won't necessarily have a better chance of conceiving if there are complex fertility hurdles to overcome."
7. How will his infertility affect our relationship?
Infertility can affect even the strongest relationships. "Whether infertility is identified as male or female factor, it's a shared problem in a relationship," Covington explains.
Men often feel terribly guilty when they see how their wife is suffering because she's repeatedly not pregnant. In addition, a woman may be angry as well as guilty because she knows it's not her partner's fault. These feelings can cause each partner to withdraw from the other, both not wanting to hurt the other one by talking about their true feelings on the subject.
"Try to be sensitive and don't assign blame," Dr. Esposito advises. "Infertility is a very challenging and stressful life event. Couples need to be supportive of each other and find a doctor and a center that they feel provides needed support in an environment that is medically safe and reassuring."