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(Guest Post: The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Episona, Inc.)
It’s Not Always the Female.
Sometimes It’s a Male Issue.
Male factor infertility affects about 40% of couples trying to create their family. This statistic should be as common as the warning signs on cigarettes because truth be told we’re not discussing male factor infertility loud enough or long enough.
So often male reproductive health isn’t something on top of men’s mind…until it is! By this I mean that for so many men it’s all about not getting someone pregnant for years and then you get called into the game and it’s a total 180.
This makes sense given that there is a systemic issue with how men receive health care from the age of 18 onward. Men tend to fall out of the health system when they move from pediatric care into manhood. Unlike women who transition from a pediatric practice to an OB/GYN office for annual exams, guys may seek out a PCP (Primary Care Physician) or they may not. Dr. Michael Eisenberg is famous for saying “Men wait, only seeking medical attention if they’ve been shot or they’re bleeding.”
If you and your partner haven’t gotten pregnant after a year of active, unprotected intercourse, you might be feeling caught off guard, out of control and unsure of what to do (obviously not mechanically but regarding your health and the future health of your child).
Taking a holistic approach to your medical health is critical. You’re not just your private parts and the whole of you needs attention and self-care: mind, body and soul.
The first step is to visit a reproductive urologist. The good news is that the male infertility work up is non-invasive. What you can expect is a physical exam, semen sample, and blood tests.
The second step is to begin to create a safe and honorable space where you can communicate feelings around this process with your partner. Acknowledging the emotional component, while keeping in mind the ole “shut up and put up” mentality that is part of our culture isn’t the way of the future. Feeling as though you’re in a double bind of a) dealing with the unknown of receiving a medical diagnosis and b) then not talking about it is normal for most men. Please try to c) Ask yourself what you need right now to move through this process and then create a way of sharing that information.
Example: Set the timer for 5 minutes and let it all out while your partner listens without interruption. Then switch and do the same for your partner. If direct communication isn’t your thing, try texting it to your spouse or partner, or try keeping a communication journal back and forth with your partner. You could even use email or text or Snapchat if that feels more comfortable.
About four years ago I had an appointment with an established couple within my private couple coaching practice. They arrived at my office and in a shocking moment the husband totally broke down, fell apart and sobbed. This 6 foot 3, bulky man broke apart. With his wife standing like a deer in the headlights, I asked her if it would be okay with her if I had the session alone with her husband. She agreed and left.
What came to light is that he had just lost his best friend to cancer. He had become his friend’s medical healthcare proxy and managed all the hospice details. Now he was faced with the job of taking care of his friend’s estate. My client worked full time while attending graduate school and he and his wife had just learned their last cycle resulted in a negative pregnancy test.
Everything came to a head and he crashed. He needed to!
At that exact moment, I knew I was failing my male clients and realized that not enough was being done to service (get your mind out of the gutter, not that kind of service) the male population about reproductive health. That day I decided to create an on-line 'Making Dads Summit' running the week leading up to Father’s Day and during Men’s Health Week which also is in June.
The pressures of a man’s life are invisible. Compounded by the pressure to be “manly” while solving, protecting, and hunting and gathering is enough to make anyone crack!!!
So I ask of you…. Are you ready to do and be in a different way for the benefit of you, your partner and your future children?
If you are ready, the difference will have to begin within. You need to take gentle care of you; the entire ‘you’ not just your genitals.
Not sure How to Make the Change?
Begin by noticing that feeling or sense that you have a flush of emotions and what are your organic reactions to that sense? Run Away? Ignore? Compartmentalize them? Just notice and then acknowledge the feelings. The quicker denser emotions are processed the more in balance you are!