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Emotional Support

“There is a real stigma about male infertility that somehow makes a man feel like damaged goods,” says Janet Jaffe, PhD, of the Center for Reproductive Psychology. “In fact, some men feel like they are walking around wearing the scarlet letter “I,” when they really shouldn’t.”

Despite the fact that infertility is as prevalent in men as in women, it appears that the focus, as well as acknowledgment and support, is directed toward women and female infertility. “When people think of infertility, they think of women. Even with 40 percent of infertility being male-factor, the media tends to overlook it,” says William Petok, PhD, a licensed psychologist who specializes in infertility.

It is important to realize that the emotional issues men face are real, and likely very similar to those a female partner may be experiencing. The difference is that a female partner will likely find solace in discussing her emotions with others, while the male may be more comfortable dealing with his emotions in a more private way.

“There is support, it just isn’t utilized. Men are encouraged to participate, but the formats, such as support groups, are situations that men tend to shy from. Men do not receive the same type of stress reduction from discussing issues aloud [as women do],” says Petok.

Men faced with infertility may experience anger, embarrassment, and hopelessness, as well as many other emotions. Learning more about the underlying medical condition and asking questions can be extremely helpful in dealing with these emotions. In addition to considering attending a support group, it is recommended that men browse the various online resources available to gain some much-needed insight into the emotional impact of the disease.

"Obtaining information online is non-threatening way to learn about your possible emotions.” adds Dr. Petok.

Remember – your partner is experiencing many of the same doubts and concerns you are. Although you may not be on the “same page” at the same time, her support is an integral part of entire process. Set aside some time to discuss your emotions with your partner – and consider utilizing other resources as well.

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Comments (6)

I have the same comment as the first two here. This article is not at all helpful as it gives me no direction of where to go to get support.

So, now three of us have replied. Any chance you will provide some links to those websites?

Thanks for asking, and yes, here are some resources for support:
www.fertilethoughts.com - The largest online community for infertility, with discussions broken down by topic, including a "Male Factor" board: http://www.fertilethoughts.com/forums/male-factor/

If you are looking for a therapist in your area, you can ask your fertility doctor if he or she has a recommendation. And, more and more clinics have counselors on staff.

Also, FertilityAuthority has started launching regional guides. The are listed on the homepage and include resources in various cities, including therapists/counselors. If your city isn't there, please check back as we are adding them monthly.

Yes, where are the websites, blogs, and chat rooms for men. We have been told hundreds of times that male factor is 40%, yet my husband is desperate to find someone to talk to who is going through the same thing. He has been searching high and low on the internet. Every now and then he finds something, but it turns out to be wives of male infertility. I just looked over all the blogs listed and only found one about male infertility, which seemed to be more about after cancer. Doctors have no clue why he doesn't have sperm. He was born this way, and feels very alone. Your article makes it sound like it is so easy to obtain information on the internet, well it's not in this case. Please direct us toward these easy to find websites.
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ayes hasaucedo from nespresso professionnel

Yes, where are the websites, blogs, and chat rooms for men. We have been told hundreds of times that male factor is 40%, yet my husband is desperate to find someone to talk to who is going through the same thing. He has been searching high and low on the internet. Every now and then he finds something, but it turns out to be wives of male infertility. I just looked over all the blogs listed and only found one about male infertility, which seemed to be more about after cancer. Doctors have no clue why he doesn't have sperm. He was born this way, and feels very alone. Your article makes it sound like it is so easy to obtain information on the internet, well it's not in this case. Please direct us toward these easy to find websites.

So, great, I already knew all this. If you say there's websites and support, where are they? Tell me something I can use, not something I already know.

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