Traditionally when we think of infertility we think of a woman’s journey, her body and what’s happening to interfere with mothering. We also know that infertility can occur because of an isolated male factor, which most often includes low sperm counts and poor quality of sperm. But men all too often are struggling in silence or alone because there typically isn’t a lot of attention paid to their psychological wounds. I am here to tell you, the struggle is real and just as devastating. In fact, research shows the impact is significant and similar to women who dealing with infertility: negatively impacting self-esteem with feelings of stigma and grief at times. So what’s a guy to do? Here are five things you need to be doing right now:
EMBRACE ALL OF YOU. Men are encouraged by historical societal expectations and norms to be strong and dismissive of emotions that would render them weak, or “perceived” weak. The message men hear is to provide and take care of things, so much so that feelings of guilt, inadequacy and depression can and do often surface. Masculinity feels in question for many men who can’t procreate and this psychological wound compromises personal confidence and former identity strength.
The reality however, is that masculinity is not solely comprised of external societal gender expectations. Masculinity is so much more than this, so much more IF men are willing to personally explore. A good start is to ask yourself these questions:
- What external situations and activities produce an internal sense of masculinity?
- Am I pursuing those situations and activities on a regular basis?
- What internal emotions make me feel like a man?
- Are there activities or situations I can pursue that promote my sense of masculinity?
If you’re willing to tap into a variety of external situations that promote an internal sense of confidence and identity strength, your burden of inadequacy from infertility will shift, lighten and be redefined.