Male infertility: more men than ever seeking help

Author: Evelyn Vittery, Bloomsbury Communications

Date: JUL 2014


Male and female reactions to infertility can be very different and Pip Reilly, an experienced psychotherapist, fertility practitioner and counsellor, founded Mensfe specifically to help men in this difficult situation.

'The most compelling contradiction for me is the assumption that men are not given as much attention and support as their female partners' he explains. 'This is complex and yet simple. The major part of treatment is done through treating the female and male treatment is minimal in comparison but what has not changed is the inability of the male to seek emotional support, to understand the emotional roller coaster they are both going through. The support may be available but is not taken up by the male, who may wish to stay anonymous. Hence the popularity of a website.'

'Gender communications between the sexes is very different when it comes to dealing with fertility problems' explains Pip Reilly. 'The female has a natural capacity to engage in the clinical aspects of treatment and have an emotional response to it, seeking additional emotional support from her partner. Her anxiety may be based on fear and loss and she wants her partner to be strong but at the same time to understand her. The man, on the other hand, will seek information to help 'manage' the treatment. He may 'bury his head in the sand' as far as emotional support is concerned. It is often said how difficult it is to understand ones partner's emotional needs and sometimes they appear unrealistic. In addition, the female need for a child is huge while the male need may not be as great. A key to combating these communications differences is acceptance and understanding of each other's needs and different approach.

'It seems a little odd when the man does not accompany his wife or partner to a consultation, the purpose of which is to explore fertility options or treatment' comments Dr Gedis Grudzinskas, an independent fertility consultant. 'The man is part of the team so his absence is notable. Why would he not come? Is he too busy, does his partner not want him there or is he considered not relevant because his sperm count is good? Is it a sign of our times when we easily delegate to one another as individuals, when we are part of a couple. This may be time saving but at what cost? Gone too may be the sense of mutual support and understanding, which often is the added value to the couple when both are in attendance at these occasion. Perhaps I am too much of a traditionalist to offer these explanations for the relevance of the Mensfe analysis but be that as it may, men do not need to feel alone in this situation.'

Visitors to the website have increased substantially over the past few years as follows:

  • May 2012 15067 hits
  • May 2013 30295 hits
  • May 2014?76854 hits

The five themes that visitors to the website identified that they needed help with were

  • How best to support their female partner.
  • Dealing with high stress levels.
  • The need to share the male perspective to this story.
  • Seeking specific information.
  • Concern about sperm quality.

'Sadly some couples do break up because of their fertility issues', says Pip Reilly. 'The man can say 'I am not giving you what you want. Go and find another man.' I have also known many females after negative treatment cycles to panic and suggest they use donated sperm when in fact they do not need to. was set up to help to deal with gender communication difference and needs and these cases in particular demonstrate the need for good on-going communication when dealing with infertility'

Article supplied by Bloomsbury Communications.

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