For most couples around the world, starting a family is one of the most rewarding things in life. But unfortunately, about 15% of couples suffer from infertility and are unable to conceive even after 1 year of unprotected sex. Furthermore, in about 50% of all such couples, the male partner is either solely responsible or contributes partly.
Understanding male infertility
Infertility is defined as the inability to achieve pregnancy after a year of having unprotected intercourse i.e. without using birth control measures. It can be caused due to a variety of reasons, some of which are treatable e.g. hormonal deficiencies, infections, nutritional deficiencies. Certain conditions like mumps leave behind permanent damage to the tube carrying sperm from the testes. Varicocele causes enlargement of veins leading to an increase in the temperature of the scrotum interfering with the proper development of sperm. There are, however, certain instances where the condition is not entirely curable and one has to resort to assisted reproductive techniques like IUI, IVF or ICSI.
How does depression affect fertility?
Although the basic reason behind infertility may be issues related to lifestyle, genetic, infections, and anatomic abnormalities, it is important to shed light on the psychological factors that affect fertility as well. According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Health, depression in males is directly linked to lower pregnancy chances. It is further stated that infertility in men causes psychological traumas such as anger, humiliation, anxiety concerning potency, doubtful masculinity, and sexual inadequacy. This guilt may worsen erectile dysfunction which may, in turn, worsen infertility.
Coping strategies for infertility and depression
In order to deal with stress, depression, and infertility in a proper way, we have listed some measures that will help you achieve comfort:
An infertility specialist is a doctor who tests, examines, and treats the complications of infertility. If you have been trying to conceive for over a year without any progress, an infertility specialist will carry out the necessary tests and counsel about appropriate treatment.
Infertility counseling is a specialized form of counseling that helps couples who face the trauma of infertility. Infertility may damage marital relationships to some extent. Individuals deal with a lot of self-doubt, inadequacy, and self-esteem issues. This directly affects the marriage and couples hit a rough patch. Infertility counseling acts as a form of couples therapy and helps couples connect and converse with each other. If a couple is absolutely unable to conceive, infertility counseling also sheds light on the other ways to conceive a child (i.e) through IVF, artificial insemination, third party fertilization, surrogacy, or adoption. The primary goal of such counseling is to help the individual to understand and accept his condition, work on his self-confidence, and try to overcome his anxiety and depression over it. He will be taught to approach his sexual inadequacy in a more positive way which will help him redefine his masculinity and marital roles.
It would give you a certain amount of comfort if you did some research on infertility and its effects. Reading books and articles on infertility, depression and marital issues related to infertility will help you deal with the pressures of the situation.
It is a well-known fact that your lifestyle directly affects infertility. Alcohol, excessive smoking, and drugs have been proven to affect fertility and also increase the risk of a miscarriage. Apart from infertility, these dangerous habits also cause a large number of ailments and long-term diseases. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet, focusing on exercise, and getting the right amount of rest will help you stay positive.
Treat infections and other factors:
If you have been diagnosed with infections causing hindrance in sperm development, the right medications can improve your fertility. Surgery and medications also help to treat problems related to sexual intercourse and erectile dysfunction.
Explore your options:
If it becomes established that you cannot achieve pregnancy with simple and routine treatment, it’s time to explore your options. There are many medical procedures like artificial insemination or fertilization in a lab – IVF and ICSI that can give you the joy of having your biological child.
Communicate with your spouse:
If you and your spouse are suffering from infertility, it is important to understand each other. Your spouse is most likely also experiencing the same feelings of depression, anger, and self-doubt. Communication is key in situations like this. Spend more time with each other and come to a positive and healthy understanding, This will help take the stress off your marriage as well.
The societal and psychological pressure on men makes it harder for them to see past the stigma of infertility. In such cases, it is important to resort to the above steps to achieve a more positive mindset. With a new problem solving and coping mechanism, you will be able to explore their options and break the stigma of male infertility.