Male infertility myths can be immensely discouraging to men (and women). Often the discussions about infertility center around women, miscarriages, getting women to relax (a myth in itself), and more. But rarely do people take time to focus on the male infertility myths associated with the infertility process.
In our experience as a couple walking through years of infertility, hundreds of doctor visits, multiple treatments, and emotional ups and downs, we never felt like many good resources for men existed; And don’t get me started on all the misinformation men receive! We know “it takes two to tango”, and we need to ensure men are included in the infertility discussion. Men don’t need to feel misinformed or afraid of the opportunities, decisions, and possibilities that exist for him and his wife. Take a look below for:
10 Male Infertility Myths For Couples Trying to Get Pregnant
1) You Are Less of a Man
This, I believe, is the worst of all male infertility myths. Male infertility rarely gets talked about. Not only among young couples, but in society as a whole, we have a kind of folklore that points the finger at women and disregards men in the process. I hate this. Here’s why.
When my husband Brad and I were going through infertility, I felt like I was the only woman around me who was dealing with infertility, and he felt the same way around his friends. He wondered if he was less of a man. Was it his fault? If we went to the doctor, would he find out that he was contributing to our problems? He lived in fear of how others and how I, as his wife, would view him if it was my fault. We ended up finding out that we were both part of the problem, yet we struggled with feeling like less of a spouse — partly due to falling into the lie of this myth.
Regardless of who has the biological issue, a man is not less of a man if he is battling infertility. Nor is a wife less of a woman because she discovered she has a reproductive issue. You are not less of a person if you are battling infertility.
2) Just Stop Worrying About It
If you stop worrying, you and your wife will get pregnant, right? OF COURSE NOT! Although I’m sure worry contributes to other health issues affecting reproduction, many times we tacitly use this terminology and perpetuate this male infertility myths. These words can be debilitating to a couple struggling with infertility, as trying to conceive permeates every moment of their day.
3) You Must Be the Wrong Size
I’ll never forget some of the incredibly hurtful things that men would say to my husband when we were going through infertility. Many of them were “just joking,” but I could read between the lines…and so could he.
Rather than supporting my husband, many people would question his manhood to the point that some even spoke about his biological organs as if they knew anything about them. Creepy, I know.
But with the focus on ED in our society today and the incredible amount of pill-taking among men and women, it makes complete sense that people would question anatomical function. But it is a myth. Men of all types have managed to have children with their wife and size of their anatomy doesn’t play a role… On the contrary, when a man hears people questioning his body, he is more likely to question himself, his worth, his ability, etc, which can lead to “performance anxiety.”
4) You Need to Wear Looser Fitting Clothing*
I can’t tell you how many people said this to my husband. People thought that if they could just find the one silver bullet that they could fix him and thus fix us. I honestly think most people mean well an/or they struggle to navigate the awkwardness of talking about male infertility. But it is easy for good intentions or awkwardness to turn into hurt, pain, and frustration.
*Some male infertility myths do have caveats though. The one caveat I will give to this male infertility myth is that there potentially has some truth to it. Biologically, certain parts of a male anatomy were created to be on the outside of a man so that their reduced temperature would facilitate the reproduction process. When men wear tight fitting clothing, they can increase the temperature and inadvertently contribute to male infertility.
Although this type of situation can certainly occur in the lives of all men, it is not a fix-all silver bullet to solve your male infertility issues. If said in a crass way, the suggestion of wearing looser clothes could cause more harm than good for the couple going through male infertility. But can be somewhat beneficial to utilize looser clothing (there are other ways as well to reduce the temperature of certain regions of your body slightly such as external application of a cold pack, a cold soda can, etc.). Make sure you don’t assume this will fix everything. It can be helpful and encouraging to your wife to see you trying to do you part; however, it should never replace the medical advice you and your wife receive from a medical professional.
5) You Aren’t *insert judgmental religious phrase here*
As Christians, we were often subjected to all sorts of judgmental religious proclamations people would make. We are Christians, we are tremendously thankful for the church, and we credit our children we have today to a miracle that Christ did in us physically and spiritually as He worked through doctors, pastors, and others.
But phrases like “you aren’t walking closely enough with God” or “You are being punished by God” or whatever other judgmental phrase, are simply not helpful. They hurt us more than we can put into words, because some very well-meaning (I’m being charitable here) people were trying to serve and encourage us yet ended up causing us to feel more hopeless.
6) It’s All Her Fault
Guys, please don’t let these words ever come out of your mouth. Now, there is the potential that you could be right. Yet how helpful can it possibly be to tell a woman that it is all her fault. She likely already struggles with depression and/or fear that she will never be a mother, why start pointing fingers in an attempt to make her feel worthless and make yourself feel better?
The truth is that it is rarely all her fault or all your fault, guys. It is usually a combination of looking at both of you and assessing your reproductive health comprehensively, in order to put together a solid game plan for you as a couple.
7) If I Go to the Doctor, I’m a Failure
You are not a failure regardless of whether you go to the doctor or not. I doubt anyone would judge a man for going to the doctor to get a cast on his broken foot. So why should we look down on men for going to the doctor if they have even a slight hint that they might be dealing with male infertility?
If you go to the doctor, you likely are making the best decision of your life to serve your wife. Women should never be treated as if they are the only ones responsible for the infertility issues that a couple faces. Go to the doctor and see what you learn. Imagine a day when you could possibly have a baby, because you were a brave enough to go to the doctor and assess your situation.
During our first trip to our reproductive endocrinologist, we had one of the most expensive medical consults of our lives (over $500 not including follow-ups, medications, scans, or blood work). It was also one of the longest consults of our lives…but this meant it was also one of the most comprehensive. We came to realize that we were embarking on a journey that was going to cost us a small fortune, but finally we felt like we were on a clear path towards having children–even if it cost us everything we ever had.
(Looking back, this is why we would have given anything to have gotten someone to coach us towards creating a clear infertility roadmap. We had no idea what we were doing. We didn’t know who we could trust. My husband knew virtually nothing about infertility (he told me I could write that), and I was just barely starting to learn about it myself. We went from appointment to appointment dropping hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars on one treatment after another — having no idea if anything would ever work. We had no one to help us navigate the journey. But I know we would have saved $10,000-$30,000 minimum if we would have been less ignorant and more organized with our approach going into the infertility process. This is a big part of why we do infertility coaching.)
8) Infertility Treatments Are Too Invasive
As my husband and I thought about infertility treatments, we both couldn’t believe that we were even having the discussion, much less that we would be taking steps in that direction soon. We quickly believed male infertility myths like “infertility treatments are too invasive and should be avoided.” As a guy, the thought alone made my husband squeamish as he imagined all the different things that a doctor might suggest or do in the doctor’s office (or on the operating table).
But many infertility treatments are not invasive at all! Many involve taking a pill, getting a scan of some sort, a lifestyle change, or many other types of non-evasive treatment. Many of the treatments can be done without any discomfort and without anyone ever knowing you are going through it. (One major caveat here is to strongly consider sharing about your infertility with at least a few people outside of your marriage. Infertility can be a lonely process. When you are ready, it is worth risking your vulnerability to have someone on your side to support you as a couple and give you another sounding board.)
9) You Aren’t Having Sex Enough*
Naturally, if you want to get pregnant, you should have sex all the time right? Well yes and no. Many of the men my husband would talk to immediately jumped to this conclusion, because logically that’s how you conceive. But this usually isn’t the case if a couple is going through infertility.
I am not a medical professional and always listen to the advice of your RE or OB/GYN, but you do not need to have sex multiple times a day to increase your chances of conception. Many times a doctor will recommend you reduce your frequency at certain times of your wife’s cycle, in order to increase your odds of conception.
*If you rarely have sex and do not target the best fertile days on a woman’s cycle, you could very well not be having sex enough. But in general I would say that this is usually less of an issue than most men and women think.
10) Your Wife Will Think Less of You If You Get Treatment
Some male infertility myths connect to other myths and get intensely personal, such as our first myth: “You are less of a man.” I could tell that my husband was hesitant about going to see a doctor regarding his infertility. All these questions came to mind: What if I am the problem? What are they going to do to me? What if people find out?
But in all actuality, I never looked down at my husband for going to the doctor to get checked out. In fact, I felt quite the opposite. I looked up to my husband, respected him more, and fell more in love with him when he was willing to go to the doctor to get checked out. To his credit, he did much more than that. I struggle to remember a single appointment that he was not there alongside of me as I walked through a long journey that included cancer, multiple surgeries, and years of frustration.
So men, what kind of man will you be? One who believes the lies and accepts the myths to your wife’s and your detriment. Or will you be the man whose wife looks up to him, because of the way he handles his possible or actual imperfections?
What about you ladies? What type of wife will you be? Will you be the woman that talks down to your husband if you don’t get pregnant and points the finger at him? Will you allow others to bad mouth your husband or say things they shouldn’t? Or will you boldly walk alongside of your husband as you navigate the complex road of becoming the family and potentially having the children that you’ve always dreamed of?
No matter where you are at in the infertility process make sure you are united as a couple, supportive of one another, and willing to make some sacrifices for the good of your marriage (and hopefully future children).
*This week (April 19-26, 2015) is National Infertility Awareness Week (#NIAW). Infertility affects 1 out of 8 people (who are of reproductive age) and can be a silent struggle for many. If you or anyone you know of would like more information about infertility, check out www.resolve.org. If you are interested in infertility coaching, shoot me a message here.