For years, the topic of male infertility has often been overlooked in conversations regarding a couple’s failure to conceive. People may even be surprised to learn that in 40 percent of couples struggling to conceive, the problem can be pointed to either just the male or both the male and female.
In an effort to better understand the emotions that men undergo as they struggle with their infertility, Ferring Pharmaceuticals Inc., a company devoted to developing products for reproductive health, conducted a survey with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association to figure out what went through their minds during their fertility struggles. Over 100 men participated in the online survey.
Infertility is characterized as the inability to achieve pregnancy after one year of trying. Phenomenon contributing to male infertility can vary. Lifestyle causes such as smoking and weight could be behind it as well as hormone imbalances and exposure to heavy metals.
Luckily, if a male is suspicious that he may be the reason he and his partner are unable to conceive, he can go under a non-invasive and inexpensive procedure to find out.
80 percent of men surveyed felt that the feelings and emotions they experienced as they struggled with their infertility were ignored and not taken into consideration. Barbara Collura, President and CEO of Resolve, a non-profit that aims to promote reproductive health, explained that “As women are often the center of the discussion when it comes to family-building, the male fertility survey we conducted has verified that men feel that they are too often left out of the infertility conversation altogether. These results reinforce our commitment to providing both men and women with the support and guidance they need while navigating their fertility journeys.”
The survey also found that men often turn to their spouse/partner, friends, or family members for emotional support. However, it probably doesn’t help that infertility issues often put a strain on a relationship. In fact, 66 percent of men surveyed either agreed or strongly agreed with this sentiment.
Head of Laboratory Services at Cork Fertility Centre Dr. Tim Dineen says that men are much slower at reaching out for help for their fertility issues than women are and that the knowledge of being infertile is harmful to their self-esteem in itself. “It can be taken as an attack on their masculinity,” he says.
In response to the survey’s findings, Ferring teamed up with Drs. Alice D. Domar, Elizabeth Grill, William Petok, and Janet Takefman to launch FertiSTRONG. It’s the first fertility mobile app designed just for men. With it, the team hopes to empower men with knowledge and self-help skills as they navigate their respective fertility journeys.
“There are many resources available for women who are navigating infertility and it became more evident that the same could not be said for men in similar situations,” said Dr. Domar, Ph.D. “We were determined to develop FertiSTRONG both to provide men with the necessary skills and advice to support and encourage themselves through these seemingly unrecognized challenges as well as suggestions for more effectively supporting their partner.”
The app offers over 500 custom coping options for over 50 situations that may cause distress for the user. No matter when, or where, a situation arises and causes a man to feel overwhelmed, the app can provide techniques and strategies for properly managing his emotions.
Luckily, where there’s a sperm, there’s a way. Dealing with infertility is no walk in the park for anyone, but maybe with this app, it can be a little easier.