Real Men Feel Pain
Some 6 million American couples suffer from the heartbreak of infertility. But while a vast support network exists to help women with the emotional pain of their inability to conceive, no one really stops to think about or support the men. Is this because men don't feel the same emotional pain that women experience in regard to a diagnosis of infertility? The answer is a resounding, "Yes."
Men aren't the same as women and we shouldn't expect them to deal with their pain in the same manner as their women partners. Men may find it difficult to speak about their infertility experiences: there's an ingrained reluctance to speak about feelings. This may be because we think of children as being something connected to a woman's realm. We have, by tradition, assigned conception to the list of items that fall within a woman's purview.
In order to understand how men deal with their emotions in this regard, we need to first acknowledge that there are real differences between men and women in the way they react to the news of infertility. While there are individual styles of coping mechanisms, some generalizations can be applied to men and the emotions they experience over their inability to father children.
Men believe there is strength and bravery in suppressing feelings and keeping their emotions under wraps. Women, on the other hand, want to talk things out. Men don't talk about baby showers as they stand around the office water cooler, so that makes it easier for them to minimize the importance of having children in their lives.
But infertility is also a tense subject since it goes to the core of an intimate aspect that takes a central role for them. Once men learn their sperm may be the reason their wives can't conceive, they question their own manhood. Men have associations to the numerical results of infertility tests in ways that women do not. Hearing that their sperm aren't fast enough or numerous enough to produce babies hits men where they live. Even if they no longer believe that "size counts" they wonder about issues like sperm concentration and motility: do sub-par numbers connote a loss of manhood?
The physiological disparity between men and women also helps men to hold down or control their feelings about infertility since unlike women; they don't receive a monthly reminder about their lack of fertility. Every day of the month is just the same to a man and his body. A male doesn't have the same painful and personal monthly tug at the heartstrings. So he appears less distressed, less sensitive, about his childless state.
But men are individuals as much as women. Each man will feel the pain of infertility in his own unique manner. For that reason, he will need his own personal space to discover the best manner for coping with his feelings.