Fertility And The Man
"You Want Me To Have A What?"
When it comes to fertility testing, women who desire to become pregnant have little, if any, difficulty submitting to testing. Regardless how inconvenient, time consuming or overwhelming the testing may be, women will do whatever is necessary to get to the cause of the problem. Men, on the other hand, don't seem to function quite the same way. When confronted with the need to have his own fertility checked, a man may be resistant, uncooperative, and even downright hostile to the idea. Most women view this attitude as a male ego problem-it is his pride standing in the way. Certainly, there is a measure of pride involved, but that is not the entire issue.
Women Don't Really Get It
Fertility specialist and founder of the Turek Clinic, a clinic that specializes in male fertility issues, Dr. Paul Turek believes women often miss the point that seeking medical help for anything is counter to the basic nature of men. "Women live with a monthly biological event that helps remind them to take care of themselves," says Dr. Turek. "We live in a society where men usually don't seek help unless they are in pain or are compelled to by loved ones."
Couple this with the pride men naturally have over their fertility, and getting a man to a fertility clinic becomes a very difficult mission. Dr. Turek believes the best way for a woman to break through this barrier is to let her man know how much it means to her that he undergo testing. "Men, even if they want a baby, will be most motivated if they are doing it for their wives," Dr. Turek says. "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."
The Old Stereotype May Be Holding Him Back
The stereotype that strong men are virile and have no problem with fertility often underpins the immediate response of denial in most men when they are asked to take a sperm test. In taking the test, he must confront these stereotypes and question his own manhood. He may feel it is a sign of weakness and he may begin to think about his own mortality and the end of his bloodline. The blow to the ego may also result in a negative impact to the man's reproductive ability.
Dr. Daniela E. Schreier, a licensed clinical psychologist, suggests the woman take a low-key approach and talk to her partner when there is no time pressure. Determine that a pregnancy is something both people want and deal with it as the sensitive subject it is. "Show love, care, respect, and support," Dr. Schreier says. "Don't blame. Just state your concerns, and present it as a team effort. Blaming yourself-or the other party-does not help, but focusing on finding a solution does." When a couple goes to the fertility clinic together, they reinforce the concept of fertility being a team effort.
If help is needed, a fertility counselor may be the right choice. Getting a man to be a real partner in the fertility effort can be challenging, but with sensitivity, tact, and help if needed, it can be done.