Why We Need To Be Talking About Male Infertility

When it comes to infertility, we hear a lot about women’s struggles to get or stay pregnant. It’s not uncommon to see female celebrities bravely discuss their journey with IVF or even read a personal post about miscarriage from a Facebook friend. In 2021, many people feel comfortable enough to share their experiences with infertility, and we cannot understate the importance of that comfort. Women have historically been ostracized for fertility struggles and have kept their pain locked up in a box; now, the floodgates have opened, and we can see just how common infertility truly is. Though society has come a long way towards destigmatizing infertility for women, men are still left behind in these conversations. Many men struggle with infertility too, and it’s time we talked about it.

What Is Male Infertility?

According to The National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, about 9% of men of reproductive age in the US have experienced fertility problems. In 30% of infertile couples, the issue is with the male. Infertility is defined as the inability to get pregnant with unprotected sex after a minimum of twelve months.

Male infertility can be caused by various factors, including low sperm production, abnormal sperm function, or sperm blockages. Specific health problems, age, and lifestyle choices can increase the chances of a male being infertile.

Diagnosis & Treatment

To diagnose male infertility, doctors employ various methods. The most common way infertility is diagnosed in males is a physical examination, medical history analysis, and semen testing. A doctor may examine the genitals and ask questions about inherited conditions, illnesses, or injuries that may affect fertility. Additionally, semen samples may be taken to a lab for testing. Less common diagnosis methods include scrotal ultrasound, transrectal ultrasound, hormone testing, post-ejaculation urinalysis, genetic tests, testicular biopsy, and specialized sperm function tests. 

Unfortunately, even with testing, many physicians cannot pinpoint the exact cause of a male’s infertility. There are still, however, several treatments that may help make pregnancy more feasible. Typical treatment options include surgery to remove obstructions or retrieve sperm, infection treatment, erectile dysfunction medication, hormonal treatments, and ART (assisted reproductive technology). ART involves gathering sperm either through ejaculation or extraction and inserting it directly into a female’s uterus. If treatment methods do not work, couples can consider donor sperm or adoption.

Inspiring Men That Are Sharing Their Male Infertility Stories

@the.browns.journey.to.three

On their Instagram page, Tia and Lee Brown share their stories of male and female infertility and their path to parenthood via donor egg IVF.

“Where the men at? …I feel as a community we focus so much on the women that I think we unintentionally add to the problem [of] why a lot of people believe infertility is just a women’s problem, why are men are forgotten and pushed out by specialists & why they are often forgotten about and not supported! 7% of the male population suffer from male infertility factor! No matter who has the diagnosis, it is as much the male’s journey as the women’s! Even though I am the one with the diagnosis, is it both our journey!”

@houseofpaynes_

Husband and wife, Myrte and Brennik Payne share their infertility story on their Instagram page, revealing that Brennik has a rare genetic condition that prevents him from producing sperm.

“After many failed pregnancy attempts, soon after, we found out that Brennik has a condition called “azoospermia” or “zero-sperm.” Genetic testing concluded that there is a deletion in a portion of his Y chromosome. That portion that is deleted just so happens to be the part of his DNA that tells his body to create sperm. So while some [men] who have very low to zero sperm count, typically have a blockage somewhere, where surgery can fix it and/or sperm can be extracted surgically, in his situation there is absolutely nothing we can do in order to have a biological child because his DNA can’t be changed. As you can imagine, this news was very unsettling and hard to grasp. In his mind “he had one job and he couldn’t do it.”

@thebigwait

On her Instagram page, Amanda Spilde chronicles her and her husband Andrew’s journey to parenthood. After three years of struggling to conceive due to Andrew’s infertility, they are now pregnant. Congrats, Amanda and Andrew! Before this happy news could be a reality, though, Amanda discussed her husband’s struggles with him at a Doctor’s visit.

After asking Andrew how infertility feels, she posted, “…I know how NEEDED the male perspective is in the infertility discussion. He looked at me, and sadness washed over his face – “I want to tell them how shitty this is. How painful this is. How this is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through and how unfair it all is.” My heart shattered on the floor of our Doctor’s office. Not because I don’t feel those things too – but because hearing my husband say them out loud was like a knife to my heart. It’s easy to acknowledge our own journey, but I often forget his hurt in all of this. So today, I’m sending love and positive energy into the universe for all the men suffering in silence…”


We applaud these brave men for sharing their stories and shining a light on a topic that is all too often brushed aside as a “women’s issue.” Men experience infertility too and their pain is just as valid. We look forward to hearing from more men that want to build community and end the stigma associated with infertility. We see you, and your story matters. 💙

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