National Infertility Awareness Week: Men Are Not Alone
Support for infertility awareness isn't limited to female infertility – male factor infertility requires the same education and awareness. In the U.S., one-third of infertility cases are due to a female factor, one-third to a male factor, and one-third are unexplained.
With these ratios, one would think male and female fertility awareness would be equally well known, but unfortunately this isn't the case. Even though we as a society still have a long way to go in appropriately acknowledging and supporting female infertility, we are even farther from doing the same for male infertility.
National Infertility Awareness Week (April 19-25, 2015) is a time when the fertility community works together to raise awareness for couples and individuals who struggle to conceive. Male partners who feel left behind when it comes to fertility support or feel they must continue to endure the stigma attached to male infertility do not tend to be as open about their experiences and feelings. This stigma has lightened in recent years, especially as treatment for male infertility had advanced, but many patients still report a reluctance to share their journey to parenthood with others because they are worried about judgment from those unfamiliar with fertility treatment.
This is unfortunate and unfair to male partners who deserve the same support as their female counterparts. Fortunately, support groups for male infertility do exist and come highly recommended for those who are new to their diagnosis or are currently undergoing treatment. Fertility support groups can be in-person or online, and can be male-only or for couples. Most support groups expect members to contribute to the conversation only when they feel comfortable doing so, and you are never expected to share anything you feel is private.
In addition to joining a support group, men are also encouraged to write or email their local and state representatives to seek support for fertility insurance coverage. Insurance coverage for fertility treatments varies widely from state to state, and treatment costs can depend on how invasive a particular procedure might be. Both the man and his partner should participate in this process in order to advocate for the fertility community.