The Male Experience of Infertility Treatment

As a woman sitting down to write a blog post about male infertility, I started by turning to my old stand-bys: the fertility blogs and research sites I frequent regularly for up to date information. I found myself 3 pages deep before I found even one post about men: a dry explanation about what a semen analysis means. It took even longer to find anything that remotely discussed the male experience. The same went for actual studies and data: with male infertility contributing to anywhere from 30-60% of infertility diagnoses, the last major breakthrough for male factor with a large impact in live birth rates was arguably in 1992 with the first live birth resulting from ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection). To drive that home, I was born in 1992.

This is an interesting contrast to literally every other field of medicine. For example, our understanding of heart disease is largely based on a Caucasian male model. Recent data has shown us that symptoms of heart attack in women are incredibly different from the “elephant on your chest, radiating to the left arm” standard we expect, and women are continuously under-diagnosed with heart disease due to atypical presentation.

Is it the subconscious implication that infertility is ultimately a female problem? That men are less emotionally affected by a diagnosis of infertility? That men are less often physically affected by it with invasive treatments required? The few resources that made any reference to the phenomenon seem to think that this is at least the origin and came to similar conclusions: we need male solutions to male factor infertility. Before moving on to female treatment options, all men should have a comprehensive urological evaluation, starting with a standard, non-evasive semen analysis, to try to address and hopefully resolve male factor infertility.

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