Male fertility declines with age but age does not impact male fertility in exactly the same way as female infertility because sperm count and quality gradually decrease as you get older. Erectile dysfunction and other health conditions are more common in older men and can impact their fertility but male infertility can also be caused by sexually transmitted illnesses or infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
Infertility affects up to 15% of couples and it’s common for women to assume that infertility is their problem, because pregnancy occurs in the female body but infertility affects men and women equally and is linked to man as equally as it is to women. One in 25 men experience male fertility and about 30% of all infertility cases are caused by a male factor and another 30% are the result of a female factor whereas the remaining 30 – 40% of infertility instances are either a combination of male and female infertility or the exact cause is unclear.
It can be caused by a variety of circumstances other than difficulties with one’s reproductive health. The human body is a complicated mechanism in which each function is tightly linked to the next. For instance, several studies have found that hypertension has a direct effect on sperm quantity, quality, and motility. With increased levels of environmental stresses, as well as the use of hazardous foods and drugs, researchers have seen an increase in blood pressure and a reduction in sperm health with time.
However, dealing with infertility can be challenging for men. It is just like heartache for them. It is not easy for a man to find a way to share what is going on in his heart if he tends to struggle with infertility. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Pavan Devendra Bendale, Fertility Consultant at Pune’s Nova IVF shared how women can be supportive to their partners with infertility. He revealed, “Men may feel and deal with their emotions in a different manner when it comes to infertility. They will struggle in silence with guilt, shame, and sadness, feel less of a man and can become frustrated. Accepting infertility will be a difficult task for them.”
Suggesting that women will have to extend support and help their partners to overcome the pain and sorrow attached to infertility, Dr Pavan Devendra Bendale asserted that it is essential to give that much-needed love and care to the male partners. He listed some vital strategies that can help women to cooperate and support their partners:
1. Be patient with your husband: Accepting the fact will be difficult for them. So, you need to be patient even when your husband gets angry, shouts at you, or ignores you. Give him some time to get back to normalcy. Be cooperative and understanding instead of picking up a fight with him.
2. Don’t be desperate to have a baby: Avoid telling your husband to go to the doctor all the time. Give him some time to relax. As a woman, you may be in a hurry to have a baby, but take it easy for some time. Don’t be behind your husband. He may look strong but he will be lonely and sad within. Try not to push him for any procedures, if he is not yet ready for them.
3. Be sensitive while discussing sperm donors: Sperm donor IVF is a good and doable option for conception in male infertility cases. Before discussing this, make your partner feel loved, respect him or take the help of a counsellor, if needed, and then start the procedure. Not being sensitive towards him can make him feel incompetent.
4. Don’t be harsh on your husband: It’s okay if he is not vocal about his feelings. Men generally don’t vent out their emotions. The feelings can come out in the form of anger. Do not argue with him and try to be gentle.
5. Avoid discussing the infertility issue with others: You might want to tell your family or friends about your suffering. But, this may not go down well with your husband. He will be uncomfortable and may not want to openly speak about the issues. Think about him and his state of mind. Instead of that, observe his behaviour and try to do things that can help him to calm down. Revive the relationship by planning a date with him. Ensure him that nothing has changed. Join a support group with him which can be helpful for you both.